Call for Papers – Change Over Time: An International Journal of Conservation and the Built Environment


Historically, human societies have isolated outsiders and transgressors to defend themselves against perceived danger. Occasionally, we have isolated ourselves to protect others. The locales in which we have performed isolation range from elaborate complexes and stately edifices to prosaic makeshift shelters. Places of isolation, detention, and quarantine reveal often unspoken truths about the states and the societies that created them. This issue will explore the ways in which communities have preserved and remembered the liminal sites they once designed to tame and physically contain their fears.

Some places of isolation are meant to be temporary, ad-hoc responses to a single emergency. Others are carefully planned and permanent fixtures of a carceral landscape. All are shaped and reshaped by circumstance, by material exigencies, and by social, political, and cultural imperatives. What many of these sites share is a tacit collective shame: they are remembered at best as necessary evils, and at worst as monuments to inhumanity. Fortresses of the West African slave trade such as Elmina Castle on the Ghanaian coast bear witness to centuries of brutal commerce in human beings. Old prisons have been preserved as museums all over the world, from Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay to Tuol Sleng in Cambodia. Some prison camps, like Robben Island in South Africa and Devil’s Island in French Guiana, specialized in political prisoners or notorious offenders. California’s Manzanar and Tule Lake, along with eight other U.S. sites, interned Japanese-Americans during World War II. Archipelagos of refugee camps like Jenin, Jabalia, and Shatila, arose to shelter Palestinians fleeing Israeli occupation, and similar camps continue to spring up in response to waves of emigration and emergency flight after the Syrian civil war and other crises. None of these sites provokes feelings of pride.

 Other places of detention and isolation have had explicitly therapeutic purposes, including psychiatric asylums, leprosaria, lazarettoes and other quarantine facilities. Their aims have varied through space and time, but their caregiving role never superseded their fundamentally carceral function. They existed to separate the actually or potentially sick from the healthy. Their commemoration has rarely been celebratory.

We seek explorations, accounts, and analyses that go beyond mere celebration or condemnation in search of a fuller understanding of the sites and the contexts in which they took shape. We welcome contributions from all chronological and geographical contexts investigating the origin, design, function, and preservation of places of detention, isolation, and quarantine. We particularly invite articles that engage with the following questions:

  • How did this institution arise?
  • Why was this site chosen? What prompted that society to require spatial isolation at that time?
  • How do qualities of the site reflect the nature of detention, isolation, or quarantine?
  • How does the architecture of the site speak to its function?
  • How was the site used, and what does its function reveal about the society and culture that produced it?
  • How can the site or institution speak to twenty-first-century concerns about public safety, risk, contagion, and health?
  • What is the current state of the site, and what efforts have been made to preserve it?
  • Has there been contestation over the purpose of the institution, its efficacy, or its preservation?
  • How do visitors interact with the site today?
  • How does the space express particular conceptions of separation, difference, and danger reflective of the society and the era from which it emerged?

Submissions may include, but are not limited to, case studies, theoretical explorations, and evaluations of current practices or interventions. We are especially interested in papers that situate preservation practice in a larger social, cultural, and political context.

Abstracts of 200-300 words are due 15 September 2020. Authors will be notified of provisional paper acceptance by mid-October 2020. Final manuscript submissions will be due mid-March 2021.


Articles are generally restricted to 7,500 or fewer words (the approximate equivalent to thirty pages of double-spaced, twelve-point type) and may include up to ten images. See Author Guidelines for full details at, or email Managing Editor, Kecia Fong at for further information.

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