In Hamlet’s soliloquy, the phrase “undiscovered country” refers to “death, The undiscovered country, from whose bourn / No traveler returns.” In this light, the phrase speaks to the urgency of global climate change as the earth passes benchmarks on the way to “irreversible” transformation, making significant parts of the globe uninhabitable by humans and other species. The recognition of this reality has spurred greater action at local, national and international levels to slow down or halt the process, generating new visions of the world economy.  It is also particularly resonant in a moment when decolonial frameworks have become more prominent, facilitating conversations about how the residue of the past affects our present and future. “Undiscovered Country” is a utopian concept resonant with creators of speculative fictions and alternate histories who evoke places beyond our reckoning. The phrase can be read either as an invitation to colonial “exploration” or as a space where colonialism never happened.

For the 2023 conference of the Southeastern American Studies Association, to be held Sept 28-30 in Atlanta, Georgia, we call for papers addressing any aspect of the theme, “undiscovered country”: colonial, decolonial, catastrophic, utopian, and/or speculative. We also encourage papers and panels grounded in the study of place, space, and environment, including both natural and built environments. Finally, interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary explorations of climate change and climate activism are also welcomed.

We welcome papers on the following themes:

Environmental Justice

Sacrifice Zones

Climate Change

Built Environment


Resource Extraction

Colonial Dispossession

Criminal Justice and Abolition

Decolonial Frameworks for Politics and Scholarship

Speculative Fiction that Reimagines Physical and/or Social Space

Intentional Communities

Remapping Projects

“Forty acres and a mule” and Reparations

Black Migration(s) and Diasporas

Natural Disasters (Hurricane Katrina, etc.)

Public History

Memory and Place

Spatial Hierarchy

Sonic landscapes

Community Activism

The Green New Deal and other Climate-Related Proposals

Guidelines for Submissions:

Please go to to submit your proposals by the extended deadline of May 5, 2023

For individual papers, you will be prompted to submit an abstract for your proposed paper (500 words) and a brief bio (max 300 words).

For complete panel or roundtable proposals, you will be prompted to submit a title and description of the proposed panel or roundtable (300 words); a brief abstract for each presentation within the session (300 words per abstract); and a brief bio for each presenter (250 words per bio).

Have any questions? Contact us at