CfP: Toxics. Aggregate, Volume 8

Call for Papers: Toxics. Aggregate, Volume 8

Edited by Meredith TenHoor and Jessica Varner
Toxics. Toxins. Toxicants. Toxicity. These terms slip in and out of architecture, design, and urban planning discussions, shifting between scientific, medical, legal, and social meanings. But what does the history of toxics reveal about the history of architecture? From nineteenth-century arsenic-laden wallpaper to present-day chemical sensitivity–inducing formaldehyde, increasingly industrialized building practices have created both new products and new modes of consumption, production, regulation, and disposal. Over the last one hundred years, building materials have become increasingly composite—made by cutting, mixing, extrusion, cross-lamination, and even nanomaterial microscopic manipulation. These processes can covertly introduce toxic substances into the architectural spaces we inhabit. How should we narrate histories of dangerous materials that so often evade our consciousness, governance, and control? How do we understand the corporeal, environmental, and social responsibilities architects assume or reject under these evolving material conditions? Finally, how do we account for the methodological and practical challenges of writing about untraceable substances, mapping inaccessible supply chains, or navigating legal restrictions on material archives? Writing histories of deleterious building materials offers an opportunity to understand how the differences between nature and artifice, production and consumption, business-as-usual and environmental justice, and the toxic and nontoxic are produced and perpetuated.
The editors hope that the essays in this collection will demonstrate and/or examine possible narrative and research methods for investigations on toxics. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Studies of toxic materials and their supply chains and geopolitics
  • How toxicity is understood and contested in professional contexts
  • Linkages between toxicity and labor in architecture and building
  • Corporations and their impact on architectural production
  • Engagements with theories of toxic materiality and materialism, as well as intersections of historical case studies with these theories
  • Histories of architectural theory related to toxicity and building
  • Work on indigeneity and toxicity
  • Work on remediation, futurism, and futurity
  • Public history methods and projects
  • Methodological and other questions that arise when working in a disciplinary space in which history and public health overlap

The editors envision a multi- and transdisciplinary project; therefore, we welcome work from scholars in architectural history and allied fields—science and technology studies; science, environmental, or business history; cultural studies; race or postcolonial theory; landscape and urban history—and from any others who feel their work attends to the intersections of toxicity and building. While the editors intend this project to explore new scholarly methods, “Toxics” also hopes to open new conduits to and from academia. Therefore, the editors welcome participation in this project from environmental justice practitioners, public historians, activists, and designers whose work deals with toxic spaces.
The editors welcome proposals for traditional scholarly essays of up to 7,500 words for consideration through Aggregate’s open peer-review publication process. We also welcome proposals for work in other formats: slideshows, annotated images or primary materials, discussions of archival challenges, maps, videos, thought exercises, teaching assignments, glossary entries, or other original works in a web-compatible format. Aggregate is a free, open-source online venue that publishes under Creative Commons protocols; authors do not incur any costs to publish on the site.
The full call for papers with the description of the possible contributions formats is avalable on the project webpage and can be downladed here.
Proposals should include an abstract of 250 to 500 words describing the scope, form, research methods, and description of the scholarly interventions you wish to make, as well as a brief CV; proposals are due 25 January 2021. Please submit them via the Google Form that you find on the project webpage.

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