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Refract Call for Papers: Volume 3 "Hauntings and Traces

Deadline March 16, 2020

This issue of Refract investigates the power dynamics of (in)visibility through “haunting” and the “trace.”  A form of way-making, the trace offers itself as an object, subject, and action, a remnant and a becoming. Haunting occupies a discomforting space between something/somebody and nothing/nobody – not simply a vestige of previous realities but an active force that unsettles life-and-death worlds. When the trace makes itself known, it has the capacity to become a possession of those in power: controlled, regulated, and framed. Hauntings, on the other hand, destabilize accessible narratives and come to (re)possess these sites of tension. While traces can lead to parts of the past being deliberately forgotten or rendered invisible, they may also rematerialize these very histories, memories, and knowledges. Therefore, these two terms have the power to either unveil or perpetuate absences, complicating straightforward or transparent narratives about what has been, what is, and what will be. How might we attend to the simultaneity of presence/absence and past/present? How are knowledge regimes formed and deformed by hauntings? How might the construction and consideration of a trace be a form of resistance to hegemony? And furthermore, how might these terms be considered in other cultural and historical contexts that> operate outside of colonial ways of being?

Topics can include but are not limited to:

  • Spectral memory, afterlives, ghostwriting
  • Physical/embodied traces (imprints, tattoos, scars, fault lines, riverbeds)
  • Digital traces (codes, glitches)
  • Violence, trauma, survivance, iconoclasm
  • Colonialism, indigeneity, race
  • Genealogy, intergenerational memory
  • Use/reuse, spoliation, appropriation, palimpsest
  • Ruins, remains, memorials, archives
  • Mapping, human geography, diaspora, (im)migration
  • Copies, reproductions, aura, indexicality
  • Ephemerality, performance, temporality, permanence/impermanence

Refract invites new approaches to visual, sensorial, and material cultures from diverse histories and geographies. Contributions from graduate students, artists, faculty, and independent scholars across the humanities, including visual studies, art history, anthropology, literature, and history are welcome. Although Refract primarily publishes in English, we invite submissions in other languages. In addition, we encourage media submissions such as film, photography, and audio, as well as collaborations that address the theme.

Submission Guidelines
Please send full-length submissions to by the extended deadline of Monday, March 16, 2020 with the subject heading “Refract Journal Submission.” Please note, only one submission per person will be considered.

  • Papers should range from 6,000-10,000 words in length.
  • Written submissions should follow Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition guidelines for Humanities.
  • Submissions will be evaluated on relevance to themes, depth of research, completeness of work, and in accordance with Refract’s engagement with diverse geographies and histories.
  • We reserve the right to edit submissions selected for publication. Late or incomplete submissions will not be considered.
  • For submissions in languages other than English, please also include a translation of the piece into English for review purposes.

Reviews and Interviews
Refract seeks reviews as another avenue for critical engagement that grapple with the topics and questions raised above.

  • Reviews on books, exhibitions, and films should not exceed 1,000 words in length.
  • Written submissions should follow Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition guidelines for Humanities.

Alternative Media
Refract encourages submissions in alternative media that address the themes described above.

  • Alternative media includes but is not limited to painting, photography, drawing, film, collaborative reviews, and digital projects.
  • Submissions should be accompanied by an artist statement no longer than 2 pages.
  • We encourage contributors to contact Refract before the submission deadline for customized instructions.
  • JPEG, PDF, and MP4 are preferred formats.

Inquiries should be sent to


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