CALL FOR PAPERS: Special issue on Critical Perspectives on Sites of Conscience

Image: Detail of tiles from Parragirls Memory Project memory garden — clay tiles made by former inmates and survivors of the Parramatta Girls’ Home, Sydney, 2018.

Place, Memory & Justice: Critical Perspectives on Sites of Conscience

A special issue of Space & Culture

Co-edited by Justine Lloyd (Sociology, Macquarie University, Australia) & Linda Steele (Law, University of Technology, Australia)

Sites of Conscience, as a global movement to reclaim and reinterpret places of human suffering and injustice as sites of memory, encourages reflection on how a geographically situated and specific set of past events have broader relevance to contemporary debates about democracy, human rights and social justice (Ševčenko 2010, 2011). Sites of conscience have emerged in response to diverse harms and injustices including institutional abuse, war, disappearance, environmental disaster, genocide, racial apartheid and labour exploitation.

Sites of Conscience intersect with recent activist and art practices which engage with ‘difficult’, abjected, silenced or marginal histories, populations and places which fall outside of sentimental national historical narratives (Dwyer 2004; Ferres 2013; Kryder-Reid, 2016; Hibberd & Djuric 2013; Till 2005, 2008). This work has framed past events as injustices having an ongoing presence and dynamism in contemporary political contexts, connecting past, present and future, and putting memory into action (Foote 1998; Jones 2015; Schwarz 2013) and disrupting and transforming our understandings and practices of law, justice, human rights and democracy (Ashton & Wilson 2014; Douglas 2017; Orange 2016). By challenging linear understandings of history, Sites of Conscience potentially challenge dominant public narratives, decentre epistemic authority and complicate conventionally understood relationships between place, spatiality, temporality and materiality.

This special issue of Space and Culture will bring together scholars, practitioners and activists to engage with sites of conscience who are interested in such sites in terms of social spaces. We are particularly interested in papers which consider how sites of conscience situate history, memory, politics, temporality, law, ethics and justice within a spatial framework. We welcome abstracts engaging with sites of conscience including in the following contexts:

  • Materiality and sites of conscience.
  • Digital or otherwise spatially dispersed sites of conscience.
  • Relationships between spatialities of sites of conscience and temporality, materiality, and affect.
  • Sites of conscience in neoliberal times – privatisation, monetisation, gentrification, development.
  • Sites of conscience, dark tourism and memorialisation.
  • Cases for new sites of conscience not yet in existence, including in relation to current or emerging injustice and harm.
  • Sites of conscience, colonialism, self-determination and Indigenous people.
  • Sites of conscience and memorialisation in everyday or social spaces.
  • Relationships between place and justice in sites of conscience.
  • Relationships in sites of conscience between human rights, spatiality, materiality and place.
  • Place as archive, evidence or judgment.
  • Sites of conscience and ethical accountability in architecture, urban planning and heritage professions.

As well as engaging with the special issue’s theme all articles must (a) comply with the general submission requirements, (b) address the central concerns of the journal, which is to explore cutting-edge questions of spatiality and materiality by connecting conceptual analysis with empirical work (‘empirical’ being broadly construed), and (c) be of relevance to a wide international and multidisciplinary readership (see here for the Journal’s aims and scope).

Key dates:

  • 1 September 2019: deadline for abstracts (500 words) and bios (200 words)
  • October 2019: authors notified of outcome of abstracts and some invited to submit full article
  • 1 July 2020: deadline for full articles of 7000 words (including references). Acceptance of an abstract is not a guarantee of publication.

The editors plan to host a workshop in Sydney, Australia related to the theme of the special issue in the first half of 2020. Authors whose abstracts are accepted will be invited to participate in the workshop in order to develop their articles for submission. Funding for accepted authors’ travel costs will not be possible, but we welcome virtual participation in the workshop.

Sites of conscience practitioners are encouraged to contact the editors if they are interested in submitting a shorter ‘praxis’ piece.

For more information about the Journal, see the Space and Culture page at SAGE:

For more information about the Special Issue, please email abstracts and any queries to


Ashton, P. & Wilson, J.Z., 2014. Sites of conscience: remembering disappearance, execution, imprisonment, murder, slavery and torture. In Ashton, P., & Wilson, J. (eds) Silent System: Forgotten Australians and the Institutionalisation of Women and Children. North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, pp. 59-70.

Douglas, S., 2017. Curating Community: Museums, Constitutionalism, and the Taming of the Political. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Dwyer, O.J., 2008. Memorial landscapes: analytic questions and metaphors. GeoJournal, 73(3), pp.165–178.

Ferres, K., 2013. The wounded city: Memory and commemoration in lower Manhattan. Communication, Politics & Culture, 46(1), pp.41–54.

Foote, K., 1998. Shadowed Ground, America’s Landscapes of Violence and Tragedy. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Hibberd, H. & Djuric, B., 2013. Art after oblivion: The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project. Artlink, 33(3), pp.68-71

Jones, S., 2015. “Simply a Little Piece of GDR History”?: The Role of Memorialization in Post-Socialist Transitional Justice in Germany. History & Memory, 27(1), pp.154–181.

Kryder-Reid, E., 2016. California Mission Landscapes: Race, Memory, and the Politics of Heritage. University of Minnesota Press.

Orange, J.A., 2016. Translating law into practice: museums and a human rights community of practice. Human Rights Quarterly, 38, pp. 706-735.

Schwarz, A., 2013. “Parallel Societies” of the Past? Articulations of Citizenship’s Commemorative Dimension in Berlin’s Cityscape. Space and Culture, 16(3), pp.261–273. 

Ševčenko, L., 2010. Sites of Conscience: a new approach to memory conflicts. Museum International, 62(1-2), pp.21–27.

Ševčenko, L., 2011. Sites of Conscience Lighting Up Dark Tourism. In Hirsch, M., & Miller, N. (eds) Rites of Return: Diaspora Poetics and the Politics of Memory. New York: Columbia University Press, pp.241-253.

Till, K. E. 2008. Artistic and activist memory-work: Approaching place-based practice. Memory Studies, 1(1), 99–113. 

Till, K. E., 2005. Wounded cities: Memory-work and a place-based ethics of care, Political Geography 31(1), pp.3-14