Call for Submissions for Issue 10
March 21 – May 15
Theme: Money / المال
Of all our calls for submissions, “Money” may be the most difficult to write. How can something so unmistakable, so essential to our everyday lives, be so hard to pin down? In Arabic, the word for money “مال” derives from the root .م.ي.ل., suggesting money’s ever-tilting nature. As it once shape-shifted from metal to paper and from paper to binary and back and forth and back again, one thing is certain: It is a story we all write. A fiction.
As we write from Lebanon today, we’re reckoning with this fiction. Our currency is in free fall. A sensation one might feel only in a nightmare when falling off a cliff, only to wake up in a jolt to find that it is just a dream, not real after all. Except in the reality of economic collapse, there is no waking from the nightmare. Instead, it is a long, drawn-out witnessing of how the world’s economy has had a bet on every aspect of one’s life.
Ten years since the uprisings that sprung up across the MENA, and a year and a half into Lebanon’s October 17 uprising, the bottom line has always been economic, has always been the power that the banking sector and its beneficiaries hold over people and places and its resultant injustices.This reality is not unique to this part of the world. It is a frame we all have a cameo in.
What concepts come to the forefront as we grapple with the new shades of money’s effect on our lives? We have drawn only an inconclusive list: Capitalism. Banks. Class. Power. Resignation. Ownership. Hoarding. Bartering. The natural world. Food security. Relationships. Guilt. Theft. Betting. Vulnerability. Immigration. Debt. Shame. Loans. Transfers. Exchange rates. Gifts. Gestures. The past, present, and future.
How have contemporary phenomena such as pandemic and uprisings and currencies and borders and halted travel and digitization shaped people’s perceptions of money worldwide?
How do these and other themes intersect in art, design, and literature?
In this issue, we want to shine the UV light of counterfeit bill detectors on the concept of money itself. What comes up that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye? What other systems are emerging as alternatives? What does “free” signify today? Where can one locate desire in economies as they prosper and crumble? What power implications does the concept of aid, foreign and domestic, hold? How does the materiality of currencies and exchange speak to the affective and the visceral?
We are seeking literature and artwork that grapple with these concepts and more and that speak about or reflect that ever present story: money.