Call for Papers (Edited Volume)

Gisela Heffes's picture
Call for Publications
September 30, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Social Sciences, Public Health

Call for Papers (Edited Volume)

Subject Fields: Environmental Studies; Art History & Visual Studies; Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Indigenous Studies; New Materialism




Deadline for Abstract Submission: September 30, 2021

Contact email: Gisela Heffes ( & Arndt Niebisch (


We welcome submissions for the edited volume Uncontained Toxicity: The Dialectics of Loss and Control.


Book Description:

Toxicity creates a double-bind. On the one hand, it poses the threat of contamination; its danger lies in its ability to cross borders in case of undesired industrial spills, the overuse of pesticides and herbicides in corporative agrobusiness or assassination attempts (Navalny). On the other hand, precisely this ability makes it necessary to create containment that isolates as well as protects the environment from toxicity.


Toxic flows and disruptions may create an uneven blueprint of dissemination and allocation. Toxicity, as any other matter, contains “agentic” properties, an active role for what has been considered “inert matter” but that also animates relationships, interaction of multiple relational subjects that constitute collective forms of social agency (Emmett and Nye 2017). Toxicity is therefore not only attributed to an agent or subject, but a mechanism that relates to post/nonhuman flows and thus complicates current debates on and about human exemplarity. Toxicity unsettles the Anthropocene by displaying its contradictions. It aligns with Jason Moore’s call to conceive of “a nature that operates not only outside and inside our bodies (from global climate to the micro-biome) but also through our bodies, including our embodied minds” (2015, 172). It showcases what we define as the dialects of loss and control: in the attempt to contain toxicity, we concede to the inescapable realization of its intractability. This collection of essays explores this counter acting dynamic from a perspective that focuses on ecological studies and new materialism.


Toxicity is here understood as a posthuman agent/dynamic that has influence on communication, politics, social environments, individual and public health as well as aesthetics and technology. Furthermore, it looks at how toxicity engages with its environment (and not merely how toxicity is represented or what it represents). It departs from the premise that toxicity is not simply a chemical agent (it might be), but rather an evolving force that can also manifest as social interactions (“toxic relationship”), historical (the “toxic legacies of colonialism), narratively (“toxic semiotics”) or subversive propaganda.


Possible topics of exploration include, but are not limited to:


● Art disruption and showcase of the ecological crisis

● Obsolete technologies and/or aesthetics

● Political climate and toxic disturbances

● Toxic reactions against human exemplarity

● Scenarios of pollution (landscapes, soundscapes, riskspaces, etc…)

● Social and/or aesthetic impacts of contamination

● Breathing toxins (atmospheric sites and repositories)

● Temporalities and interconnections through toxic efficiency

● Images of toxicity (non-linear, non-figurative unsettling flows)

● Technologies of (toxic) distribution

● Media and transgression (sound, smell, social media, senses)

● Viruses and immunity (isolation and sites of respiration)


Please submit abstracts of maximum 300 words by September 30, 2021 to Gisela Heffes ( & Arndt Niebisch (


Abstracts should be accompanied by a short bio of approximately 150 words. Notification of acceptance will be given by mid-October. Completed essays (written in English) will be expected by April 1, 2022.


Contact Info: 
Gisela Heffes, PhD
Professor  of Latin American Literature and Culture

Rice University


Contact Email: