CALL FOR PAPERS: Pandemic, Plague, Pestilence and the Tropics [OPEN]


 CFP Submission Deadline 1 December 2020

SPECIAL ISSUE THEME: Pandemic, Plague, Pestilence and the Tropics 

The Tropics has long been associated with exotic diseases and epidemics. This historical imaginary arose with Aristotle’s notion of the tropics as the ‘torrid zone’, a geographical region virtually uninhabitable to non-indigenous peoples due to the hostility of its climate; it persisted in colonial imaginaries of the tropics as pestilential latitudes requiring slave labour; and further into wars staged in tropical arenas where illness and death from diseases reduced the availability of healthy soldiers to die on the battle field. The tropical sites of colonialism and war gave rise to urgent (western) studies of tropical diseases which lead to changes in architecture and urban planning, to biopiracy of tropical plants and indigenous knowledges, and to the creation of institutes of tropical medicine.

The tropics as a region of pandemic, plague and pestilence has been challenged during the global pandemic of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. The new virus neither originated in the tropics, nor were the tropical countries of the world specifically or exclusively affected. Tropical countries have been impacted by, and responded to, the novel coronavirus in diverse ways. This disrupts the imaginary of pandemics, plagues, pestilence in association with the tropics, and calls for critical, nuanced, and situated analyses.

Indeed, critiques of the notion of the Tropics as wildly infectious sites of pandemic, plague and pestilence already have a long history, articulated and sustained through the arts, film, literature, history, cultural studies, ethnographies, social sciences, cultural geography and urban studies. For instance, tropical epidemics (and fear of the other) have been associated with the subtropical Gothic vampire myths of New Orleans; disease and colonialism is as much the setting of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Love in a Time of Cholera as are the tropics of Colombia and the Caribbean sea; in Thai director, Weerasathakul’s, film Tropical Malady malarial fevers involve shamanism and shape-shifting; ethnographic studies reveal how local peoples interpret and attend to tropical illnesses; and tropical infectiousness is the germ of academic research analysing heterotopic quarantined spaces of sanatoriums constructed across the tropics.

The theme Pandemic, Plague, Pestilence and the Tropics opens to complex intertwinings involving nature and culture, humans and animals, colonialism and indigeneity, science and conspiracy, histories and futures, reality and fiction, myth and ritual, the monstrous and magnanimous.

This special issue invites a wide range of articles and creative works from researchers who live in, or engage with, the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

eTropic: ISSN:1448-2940, free open access; indexed in Scopus, Ulrich's, DOAJ; archived in Pandora, Sherpa/Romeo; DOIs, Crossref; Scimago Q2 ranking.  

eTropic: electronic journal of studies in the tropics publishes new research from Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and allied fields on the variety and interrelatedness of nature, culture, and society in the tropics. Tropical regions of the world range across: the north of Australia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, tropical Africa, the Indian Ocean Islands, the Pacific, the American south and Hawai’i.


  • Submissions close 1 December 2020
  • Research article submissions should be about 6000 words
  • Literary, creative works and photographic essays about 4000 words
  • Include a 200-word abstract of the article or creative work
  • Provide a separate 100-word biographical note for each author
  • Follow APA (edition 7) style for in-text citations and reference list
  • Contributions should be submitted as a Microsoft Word file
  • Submissions must conform to the eTropic style guide. Download and follow the Style Sheet & Template: StyleSheetTemplate.docx
  • All images must be used with permission and referenced
  • Submissions should be uploaded to eTropic online journal portal (email for help)
  • Suitable papers will be double-blind peer reviewed
  • Authors are requested to browse eTropic articles to make sure they are familiar with the journal’s multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary scope and style
  • eTropic website
  • For enquiries or for pitching your ideas or abstracts, email
  • Publication dates: Issue 1, March 2021; Issue 2, September 2021

Special Issue editors: A/Prof Anita Lundberg, James Cook University, Australia; A/Prof Kalala Ngalamulume, Byrn Mawr College, USA; Dr Tanja Hammel, University of Basel, Switzerland; Prof Jean Segata, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; A/Prof Arbaaya A Termizi, University Putra Malaysia; Dr Chrystopher Spicer, James Cook University, Australia.

Posted: 2020-09-06

Special Issue: Environmental Artistic Practices and Indigeneity: In(ter)ventions, Recycling, Sovereignty [PUBLISHED]]


Vol 19, No 1 (2020): Special Issue: Environmental Artistic Practices and Indigeneity: In(ter)ventions, Recycling, Sovereignty

This special issue on Environmental Artistic Practices and Indigeneity: In(ter)ventions, Recycling, Sovereignty brings together creative works, poetic essays, and academic articles which address numerous forms of Indigenous artistic practices. This collection speaks literally and metaphorically of the ocean and river ecosystems of the Pacific Islands, Australia, French Guiana, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia.

Posted: 2020-08-30

Special Issue: Tropical Gothic: Literary and Creative Works [PUBLISHED]


Vol 18, No 2 (2019): Tropical Gothic: Literary and Creative Works

This is the second published collection of the two-part special issue on the theme Tropical Gothic. While the first issue provided a space for reflection upon the unique social, historical, political, cultural and environmental conditions of the tropics; this second issue demonstrates how creative writers and artists have a particular role to play in such reflections, through producing the cultural artefacts for the contemplation of others, or by contributing to such debates as creative practitioners and critics. The papers concentrate on Tropical Gothic literary and creative works from South and Southeast Asia and Tropical Australia.   

Posted: 2019-10-01

Special Issue: Tropical Gothic: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences [PUBLISHED]


Vol 18, No 1 (2019): Tropical Gothic: arts, humanities and social sciences

Gothic is resurging in academic and popular cultures. In the tropics, the gothic addresses fraught geographies and histories of colonialism and violence; threats to biodiversity and environments; and the stresses of globalisation and neoliberalism (‘vampire’ capitalism) which impinge upon the livelihoods, traditions and the very survival of peoples of the tropics. Papers engage with Tropical Gothic in West Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Southeast Asia, northern Australia, and the American 'southern Gothic'. 

Posted: 2019-05-30

Special Issue: Living Cities: Tropical Imaginaries (Issues 1 & 2) [PUBLISHED]


Vol 17, No 2 (2018): Tropical Imaginaries & Living Cities

In this special issue on cities, tropical imaginary comes to the fore while the metropolis provides the space for imagination. Many tropical cities have physical presence - Darwin, Singapore, Hong Kong, Havana - others morph into haunted spaces or spaceships; or dissolve into a haze as memory and imagination take the stage. Yet these spaces are always alive, their virtual presence becomes the matrix that holds the imagination. Papers engage martial arts, short stories, novels, poetry, and speculative fiction, transition into visual art through sci fi magazine covers, graffiti and heritage arts spaces, and close with film.


Vol 17, No 1 (2018): Living Cities: Tropical Imaginaries

‘Living Cities: Tropical Imaginaries' reminds us that urban environments are both created and creative spaces concerned with peopled and lived experiences and their interaction with material, cultural and natural environments. The issue explores architecture, design, creative industries and economies, heritage, urban myths, narratives, everyday life and flânerie.

Posted: 2018-04-25

Special Issue: Bold Women Write Back [PUBLISHED]


Vol 16, No 2 (2017): Special Issue: Bold Women Write Back

Following in the wake of  international Women’s Marches with their pink pussy hats across many parts of the globe and the International Women’s Day theme ‘Be Bold for Change’, this issue explores anew role for resistance through art, literature and writing - for women of the tropics especially - and asks what it means to be bold right now as oppression intersects race, sex, class, and religion in a world that is repealing rights and advances.

Posted: 2018-02-23

Special Issue: Tropical Liminal: Urban Vampires & other Bloodsucking Monstrosities [PUBLISHED]


Vol 16, No 1 (2017): Tropical Liminal: Urban Vampires and Other Blood-Sucking Monstrosities

Vampires and other blood sucking monstrosities constitute some of the most famous myths that continue to haunt contemporary society. The papers in this issue examine the presence of these beings within the cities and urban surrounds of the tropics and sub-tropics.

Posted: 2017-05-21

Special Issue: International Day of the Tropics [PUBLISHED]


Vol 15, No 2 (2016): Special Issue: International Day of the Tropics

This year, the United Nations declared 29June the ‘International Day of the Tropics’ – a day dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness of the tropical regions of the world. It calls for a ‘tropics lens’ for assessing knowledge and ideas benefitting the tropics. In this issue papers explore notions of the tropics from critical thinkers, explorers of the imagination, and social scientists.

Posted: 2016-12-20
1 - 8 of 8 Items