Call for Papers: Special Issue of Poetics

Catastrophes, Meanings, and Politics in a Global World: Toward a Cultural Sociology of Disasters
Special Issue of Poetics

Poetics, a leading journal of sociology of culture, media, and the arts, is issuing a call for papers for a special issue in 2021. Dedicated to “Catastrophes, Meanings, and Politics in a Global World: Toward a Cultural Sociology of Disasters,” this special issue will be guest edited by Bin Xu, Associate Professor of Sociology at Emory University and Ming-Cheng M. Lo, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis.

Natural and technological disasters not only cause chaos and casualties but also compel individual and collective actors to engage in making sense of profound life, death, and suffering. Such meaning-making processes inevitably involve clashes of multiple symbolic systems. While mainstream sociology of disaster has produced abundant and rigorous studies of social aspects of disasters, it has yet to develop a systematic research agenda centered on the cultural aspect of disasters. The overarching goal of this special issue is to explore and established how disasters are fundamentally cultural.

This special issue attempts to advance this agenda by making some new moves. First, this special issue seeks to address multiple dimensions of culture, including public discourses, symbolic practices, institutional cognitive schemata, individual interpretations, and so on. Second, this issue aims to enhance reflexive self-positioning by denaturalizing the lingering Euro-America-centric biases in our discipline. Finally, this issue aims to provide fecund grounds for the cross-fertilization of the sociology of disaster and cultural sociology.

We are looking for papers that advance this agenda through theoretically illuminating and empirically rigorous research. While we welcome various regional foci, topics, and perspectives, we are particularly interested in papers that address the following issues:

  • Disasters or related processes with global impacts
  • Disasters in the global South, especially Africa and Latin America
  • Long-term disasters such as climate change
  • Recent and historical pandemics such as the SARS, Ebola, and the ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks

Interested authors need to submit an abstract of about 500 words to the guest editors (Xu and Lo) by May 15, 2020. The guest editors will notify the authors with their decisions by June 1, 2020. The authors whose abstracts are accepted will need to submit the full papers to the guest editors first for internal reviews by September 1, 2020. After addressing the guest editors’ feedback, these authors will submit their revised papers to Poetics through its on-line submission system by December 1, 2020.  These submissions will then be subject to the journal’s anonymous review process for additional revisions and the final editorial decisions.

Please feel free to circulate this call for papers. We are looking forward to reading your submission. Should you have any questions, feel free to email the guest editors Bin Xu (bin.xu@emory.edu) and Ming-Cheng M. Lo (mmlo@ucdavis.edu). 

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