11 Sep CFP Special Issue: Oil & Water

Special Issue

Oil and Water: Representations of Alberta’s Tar Sands and the Global Oil Industry

Guest Editor: Sheena Wilson

Several types of submissions are being solicited

1. Academic articles

2. Guest artist contributions

3. Interview with the chosen guest artist

4. Comparative Book Review Essay

5. Reviews of books, films, art etc., related to the theme

1.  CFP for academic articles: How can wealth be produced while exploitation is neutralized? Hyper-developments in environments of technological communication in the last twenty years have radically transformed the role of citizenship through image-derived and image-driven reality.  Specific parties that historically represented the political spectrum have metamorphosized into corporate-styled neo-liberal aggregates of particularized self-serving interests within specific socio-political contexts.  In Canada, it has been proposed that the development of the oil industry is bringing about a radical transformation of democratic statehood: the Canadian petrostate (Nikiforuk 2008).

Various cultural productions – namely photography and documentary film – have recently tried to engage resistance within the visual sphere to counteract  government-corporate discourses that promote the “Oil”/Tar Sands by focusing on economic prosperity and negating the exploitation of the environment through linguistic recuperations that have altered the descriptors of reality:  “overburden” (referring to the boreal forest and wetlands), “reclamation” (tree-planting but not replacement of the wetlands that took millennia to develop), “business without borders”, or, at a national level, Conservative Prime Minister Harper’s July 14th 2006 speech, where the term “epic” deflagrates literary tropes and history, framing a narrative of phantasmagorical dominion over nature.  Re-envisioning the Alberta Tar Sands as epical—where apart from the direct, economic beneficiaries no one will have direct contact with the Tar Sands other than through visual mediations—invents for the Canadian imaginary the triumph of the will over its habitat: a trope of Canadian literature taken well beyond its initial survivalist mode. These transformations that legitimize exploitation are part of a semantic shift, where the destruction of the environment becomes “epic.” This brutally subverts the Kantian relation aesthetical/ethical.  What was monstrous/ugly is now rendered as beautiful/entrepreneurial.

This special issue of Imaginations, welcomes abstracts for contributions that deal with image representations of oil and water issues and the related human rights issues and social/eco-justice movements that are ongoing in Alberta, and in other national and internationally contexts.  Articles might demonstrate how these images function within the larger rhetorical debates circulating around the issue of the Oil Sands versus the Tar Sands, versus discussions of water as a human right; how the image might be used to disrupt, to various degrees, the seductive process at work; how the image might aestheticize and neutralize political engagement, etc.

Some examples of such imagery are as follows:


–       Peter Essick’s National Geographic photos


–       Edward Burtynsky’s Oil photographs [and the associated documentary Manufactured Landscapes (2006)],

–       Louis Helbig’s Beautiful Destruction exhibit


–       online photography posted by lesser known photographers.

the moving image:

–        Avatar (2009) and James Cameron, also attracted a lot of negative publicity to the Tar Sands

–       Our Land, My People by Amnesty International (2008),

–       Petropolis (2009) a Greenpeace film by Peter Mettler,

–       Rethink Alberta (2010),  Corporate Ethics International

–       Downstream (2008) and Dirty Oil (2010) by Leslie Iwerks,

–       H2Oil by Shannon Walsh (2009),

–       Water on the Table by Liz Marshall (2010),

–       Tipping Point: The Age of the Oilsands (2011) by Niobe Thompson and Tom Radford.

–       Etc.

General Submission guidelines for peer reviewed Contributions

To contribute an academic article or a comparative book review essay, please send a 500-1000 word abstract in either English of French to sheena.wilson@ualberta.ca by August 1st, 2011.  The guest editor will notify the selected authors of their initial pre-approval by August 15th, 2011.  For interviews, please be in touch as soon as possible to discuss the proposed artist and make the necessary arrangements.

Contributors will be asked to submit a full copy of their article, book review essays, or interview by January 15th, 2012, at which time each contribution will be submitted to a double-blind peer-review process that will determine which articles are ultimately published in the special issue.  Submissions should be between 6000-8000 words, accompanied by a 200 word abstract and a short bio that includes all necessary contact information.  All submissions must conform to MLA style and copyright permission for all images is the responsibility of the individual author.  Any moving image clips must be provided in Mpeg4 format.  For more details see the journals submission guidelines:


Please note that the submission guidelines for artist contributions are slightly different.  The artist can negotiate manageable deadlines with the guest editor.

1.  Submission process for academic articles: To contribute an academic article, please see general submission guidelines above.  For any further questions, please sheena.wilson@ualberta.ca

2.  Submission process for Guest Artist: Each issue of Imaginations features contributions from one artist, as well as an interview with the invited/selected artist to contextualize his/her artistic contribution(s). If you are an artist who would like to be considered as the guest artist, please contact the guest editor as soon as possible: sheena.wilson@ualberta.ca. If possible, send sample work with some indication of what type of artistic contribution you would like to feature in the journal’s online format. Submission dates for the artistic contributions can be negotiated.  Ideally, contributions for this special issue will be submitted during summer 2011.

3.  Submission process for interviews: Each issue of Imaginations features contributions from one artist, as well as an interview with the invited/selected artist to contextualize his/her artistic contribution(s). If you are interested in conducting an interview with a specific artist who you know would also be interested in contributing work to the journal, please correspond with sheena.wilson@ualberta.ca by e-mail as soon as possible.  For more details see “general submission guidelines” above.

4.  Submission Process for comparative book review essay: Each issue of Imaginations includes one book review essay that compares three or four books on the image – in this case the focus would need to be relevant to the theme.  For more details see “general submission guidelines” above.

5.  Interested in submitting a short online review? Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies has an associated review space. In keeping with the interdisciplinary and international vision, reviews of books, performances, events, structures, spaces, installations, films, festivals, and other (cross)-cultural artifacts relevant to the study of the image are accepted and published on an ongoing basis. While the language of the review must be in English, the texts or objects being reviewed may be in any language or found in any national context. The review should be between 250 and 500 words. For more information consult the CFP:


If you would like to become a reviewer for Imaginations or if you have any questions regarding the review process, contact the Reviews Editor at imaginations@ualberta.ca cc: Tara Milbrandt tara.milbrandt@ualberta.ca. The reviews section can be found online at https://www.csj.ualberta.ca/imaginations/?page_id=43