Sojourning (Summer 2024)

Guest Editor: Michelle Lanier, Johnica Rivers, and Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Deadline for Submissions: July 1, 2023

Southern Cultures encourages submissions from scholars, writers, and artists for a special issue guest edited by Michelle Lanier, Johnica Rivers, and Alexis Pauline Gumbs called Sojourning, to be published Summer 2024. We will accept submissions for this issue through July 1, 2023.

“Some will call it a dream, others a vision.”
—Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Sojourning is inspired by the layered resonances of the life and legacies of Harriet Ann Jacobs. A Black woman born into slavery in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1813, Jacobs was a freedom seeker, author, abolitionist, mother, Civil War–era aid worker, and educator of international note. Commemorations of Jacobs often focus primarily on her experience as a fugitive, specifically her extraordinary determination to hide for seven years in her grandmother’s tiny attic after escaping a relentlessly abusive slave owner. Jacobs, however, described both her hiding and her wayfinding in her groundbreaking and canonical text Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

Building on the legacies of Jacobs’s life and work, we seek to explore sojourning as a creative and intellectual act, specifically engaging landscapes as experiential and revolutionary research. How can we reimagine and re-experience place as liberatory through Black geographies, feminist mapping, and womanist cartography? How can Black, southern, and femme cosmographies (the making of worlds minute and massive) guide us into the physicality of place, home, space, and possibility?

Sojourning is a declaration of power through embodied ritual in which the physical work of “going” is enacted with the body, be it by foot, boat, wheelchair, equine companion, or train. By touching skin to earth, sojourning can be an intimate source of knowing—affirming, claiming, and reclaiming of self, home, culture, kin, or futurities. It can be rebirth or revision, resistance or revival, exploration or escape.

These acts of going ask us to contend with dreams of refuge and shelter, ecologies of witness and becoming free, and possibilities for reimagining the self. We seek to examine the aftermath and echoes of healed wounds and new strengths to ask what have been, or will be, places of balm, renewal, reclamation, and transformation? How do we move beyond the site of injury?

We seek submissions with topics and questions considered through a liberatory lens. We hope to spotlight overarching themes and stories, while also appreciating the crucial differences within identities, eras, conditions, and experiences. Submissions may explore any topic related to the theme, and we welcome investigations of the region in the forms Southern Cultures publishes: scholarly articles, creative nonfiction, memoir (first-person or collective), interviews, surveys, photo and art essays, and shorter feature essays.

Guiding concepts to consider:

  • Wandering, wayfinding, and trailblazing
  • Rituals and traditions of affirmation (inspired by Alexis Pauline Gumbs)
  • Emergence
  • Black womanist/feminist cartographies (in the tradition of Michelle Lanier) and mapping, imagined and realized
  • Matrilineal migrations (after Johnica Rivers)
  • Nomadism
  • Ecological co-conspirators and biomimicry or interspecies liberation (inspired by adrienne maree brown)
  • Return as revolution
  • Sacred and secular spaces and practices
  • Codes, ciphers, and symbols
  • Stewardship of space and place, sustainability, and self-sufficiency as freedom practice
  • Foodways of liberation
  • Resistance, uprising, and the radical Black South
  • Black desires for selfhood (including intergenerational legacies)
  • Black feminist navigation
  • Petit marronage, “mad money,” and other freedom strategies
  • Grammars of healing, health, and well-being
  • The art of family (found family, reunited kin, spiritual kin) as worldmaking
  • Gender expression as freedom work
  • Memoir, autobiography, autoethnography, writing the self

As Southern Cultures publishes digital content, we encourage creativity in coordinating print and digital materials in submissions and ask that authors submit any potential video, audio, and interactive visual content along with their essay or artist’s statement. We encourage authors to gain familiarity with the tone, scope, and style of our journal before submitting. For full submissions guidelines, please click here.

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