Call for Proposals: Rivers & Borders

Contributions for the Fall 2023 Issue

Open Rivers: Rethinking Water, Place & Community invites submissions for our Fall 2023 issue on Rivers & Borders. Even as rivers have long been arteries of connection, they can also be a means of creating boundaries and separation. A recent study in Water Policy determined that rivers make up 23 percent of international borders, not to mention creating borders at provincial, state, and local levels as well (Popelka and Smith 2020). Rivers can be a way of dividing lands, creating political, economic, and cultural distinctions, and separating people in ways that complicate ideas of interconnectedness. Yet rivers also traverse boundaries and borders, connecting people across vast storied landscapes and also becoming sites of contestation, conflict, and trauma. Rivers–as borders, as boundaries to cross, or as crossing borders themselves–have shaped histories, inform the present, and present the opportunities for our futures. How do we engage questions of rivers and borders as we consider relationships with water, place, and community?

Rivers & Borders

For the Fall 2023 issue of Open Rivers we seek contributions that foreground the tensions and complexities of rivers and borders, and how their entanglement shapes our relationships with water and each other based on critical, thoughtful, and challenging research and engaged practices. We invite submissions from scholars, activists, artists, professionals, policymakers, community members, scientists, and practitioners who offer insight on rivers and borders, broadly conceived. We encourage prospective authors to share work that furthers our understandings of the important ways rivers both separate and connect us. We are looking for a collection of articles that will provoke meaningful action and inspire ongoing discussion.

Possible themes for submissions may include:

  • Rivers as political, social, cultural, and economic borders
  • Rivers as physical, figurative, and imaginary borders
  • Collaborative river management across borders, including challenges, successes, and opportunities
  • Scientific analyses demonstrating effects of practices on rivers across borders
  • Bridges and other infrastructure that connect or disrupt communities as they cross rivers or as managed rivers cross borders
  • Rivers crossing borders, connecting places and people in meaningful and contested ways
  • River borders and rivers crossing borders as sites of exchange, trade, meeting, and connection
  • Indigenous understandings of rivers, borders, and political boundaries
  • Environmental justice issues, protests, and social movements arising from river borders or rivers crossing borders
  • Environmental histories on rivers as borders and histories that challenge normalized understandings of rivers as physical barriers
  • Gentrification, city planning, and reconnecting across river borders
  • Policymaking and practices concerning rivers as borders
  • Art and artistic expressions informed by and informing river borders or rivers crossing borders
  • Community initiatives to reconnect with water and community across river borders

Submission Process

To submit a proposal for consideration for this issue of Open Rivers, please prepare a short abstract (250 words or fewer) and complete the form at A committee will review the submissions and we will be in touch with you within four weeks of the submission deadline with more information. Before submitting, please review our submission guidelines.

Deadlines for Abstract Submissions

For authors interested in writing feature articles (3,000-5,000 words, peer review available): EXTENDED to Monday, October 3rd, 2022

For columns (shorter articles): Monday, October 3rd, 2022

If you have any questions, please contact us at

References Cited

Popelka, S. and L. Smith. 2020. “Rivers as Political Borders: A New Subnational Geospatial Dataset.” Water Policy 22 (3): 293-312.