Foundry Open Call: Civil War Object Series

UCHRI is launching a multi-year program conceptualizing civil war as a cultural determinant and political paradigm. This project will challenge us to theorize and investigate issues such as domestic militarization, climate change, online (in)civility, borders and borderlands, etc. as they relate to civil war. Our thematic invites a wealth of readings—civil war as historically contextualized; as two competing and contrasting ways of participating in our everyday; philologically, as a contradiction in terms; the iterations across disciplines are provocatively endless and provides rich fodder for incisive analysis and debate.

Over the 2018–2020 academic years, UCHRI will coordinate a series of events and programs designed to unpack this complicated, multi-faceted thematic. A significant part of our programming will be an interdisciplinary conversation that we will host on our new online imprint, Foundry, where, through an audiovisual series, we will showcase a broad spectrum of analyses, from macro to micro, from capacious theorizing to careful and close interpretations.

To this end, we invite academics, journalists, public intellectuals, etc. to participate in our Civil War Object Series. Interested contributors will select an object and develop an analysis in connection with our guiding thematic—civil war. Successful analyses will explore the object’s history and context in provocative ways. For some objects, this may require moving beyond their everyday use to expose larger material histories and cultural implications. Object choice can be deceptively simple or seemingly counterintuitive—we expect a range from historically explicit to idiosyncratic. We encourage contributors to negotiate our thematic as they see fit.

For example, objects such as surveillance cameras, ubiquitous parts of our everyday lives, embody and yield complicated power dynamics. Food, water, icons, and infrastructures might operate similarly as “objects” in and of a civil war. For two members of UCHRI staff, a billboard image and teeth whitening salon served as provocations concerning civility as an articulation of ethnoracial class battle. Above all, your close reading should signal how objects reveal relationships between language, cognition, and communities, how material culture often drives or reinforces the stark ideological separations embedded in the concept, civil war.

Submissions should be no more than 2000 words and can be sent to