Call for Papers

The Vote (Spring 2024)

Guest Editor: Errin Haines (The 19th)

Deadline for Submissions: June 1, 2023

Southern Cultures encourages submissions from scholars, writers, and artists for a special issue, The Vote, to be published Spring 2024. We will accept submissions for this issue through June 1, 2023.

In our country’s history, tremendous efforts have been made to secure voting rights for all citizens. The passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1869 guaranteed Black Americans the right to vote. In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, largely granting access to the ballot for white women. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 established full access to the franchise law after decades of Jim Crow segregation and violence denied millions of Americans, especially Black southerners, their right to the franchise.

Many of our nation’s greatest battles for democracy and our full civic participation began and were fought in the South, and the battle for voting rights is being waged anew today. Voter suppression laws are sweeping across Republican-controlled state legislatures as Democrats seek to shore up and expand protections for voters in the statehouses they control. Congress has failed to pass national legislation that would enshrine voting rights. Recent Supreme Court decisions have rolled back oversight of the democratic process, and redress with the Department of Justice is subject to the winds of politics.

For many southerners, voting is essential to their regional identity. The Vote will explore who southern voters are and the changing experience of this crucial pillar of full civic participation.

Each generation of women, people of color, and other marginalized groups has had to be vigilant about their access to and participation in our democracy, and this generation is no different. Who and where we are as a country on the issue of voting is the subject of this issue, in which we seek to explore those playing a role in shaping how we vote and work to expand imaginations about voters and the shorthand categories they are often sorted into—rural, educated, blue-collar, voters who care about faith, the economy, or the courts, and, of course, southerners. We seek contributions about southerners who have been on the front lines of voting rights, from activists to organizers to poll workers and others. What role have white southerners played in expanding or contracting voting rights? What role are they playing now, and why does it matter?

The Vote issue will ask what twenty-first-century voter suppression looks like, and how today’s strategies are different from those used in the past. How does our history inform present-day understanding of the fight for voting rights in the South? Voter suppression has been our legacy. Will it be our future?

Submissions can explore any topic related to the theme, and we welcome investigations of the region in the forms Southern Cultures publishes: scholarly articles, memoir (first-person or collective), interviews, creative nonfiction, photo and art essays, and shorter feature essays. For this issue, we are especially interested in oral narratives, memoir, storytelling, and self-narrativization. Artistic expressions, including visual, literary, theatrical, musical/sonic, documentary, and performative activism are encouraged.

Possible topics and questions to examine might include (but are not limited to):

  • Fannie Lou Hamer’s 1964 speech at the Democratic National Convention
  • Voting culture among Black Americans in the South since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Southern immigrant stories about the importance of voting
  • What is a southern voter?
  • Southern white women and suffrage, then and now
  • Voting, race, gender, and power
  • Food and political identity; food and voter activism
  • A history of voting and violence in the South
  • Rural voters and race
  • Reconstruction, representation, and disenfranchisement
  • The impact of Section 5 in Southern states from 1965 to 2013
  • The Holder v. Shelby ten-year anniversary
  • Gerrymandering and the South
  • Finding joy at the polls
  • Persuasion voters
  • Voting in a post–John Lewis America
  • The significance of Selma
  • Public and historical memory

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 with their essay or introduction/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.

Header illustration by Nate Beaty
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