A World Family Portrait

A Project of the RISC Consortium

The Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC) unites scholars from different continents in cross-regional dialogue on the human and environmental impacts of regional integration processes. In accordance with this vision, the RISC Consortium is proud to invite scholars, practitioners, journalists, photographers, etc. to submit written and photographic contributions in English French or Spanish to a series of volumes entitled “A World Family Portrait.” These volumes will present a contemporary reflection on the human condition through the presentation and analysis of life challenges and opportunities. The goal of these publications is not simply to document world events/social conditions but to engage readers through photography and prose in a dialogue focusing on the evolution of our world and humanity’s place in it. Relevant historical contributions are also welcome. In addition to the project’s final publications, a photographic exhibit will be organized, as will a virtual exhibition on the web portal of the RISC Consortium (www.risc.lu).

The project is inspired by Edward Steichen’s photographic exhibition “The Family of Man” which opened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1955. “The Family of Man” shows mankind in different physical, psychological and emotional states from birth to death. It transcends cultural boundaries and unites humanity through our common characteristics. The exhibition documents the evolution of society and initiates a dialogue with viewers on social issues.

Interested contributors should go to the “World Family Portrait” link at www.risc.lu where texts and photographs can be uploaded along with basic information such as author name(s), correspondence address, institutional affiliation, and current position. Articles should be approximately 500 words in length. Images should be submitted in a JPEG format at a resolution, at this stage, of approximately 1900×1600 pixels. All materials must be original.

All inquiries and submissions related to the project should be sent via the form on the RISC Consortium web portal. Inquiries about the project should be addressed to Dr. Harlan Koff, University of Luxembourg. There is no deadline for submission of photos and articles as this is an ongoing project.


”A World Family Portrait” will be divided into multiple volumes and organized around the thematic topics of RISC’s working groups:


  1. Human Development and Social Equity

This volume calls for contributions focusing on human development, defined as development strategies aimed at assuring human dignity. Central questions include (but are not limited to): How can people-focused development processes be successfully promoted during political and economic crises? How can development processes promote equity amongst human beings? What alternative development strategies can be explored to address poverty, hunger, power disparities, etc.? How do development processes in different places affect each other? How can migration/mobility be better incorporated into development strategies?


  1. Environment and Strategic Resources

History is full of examples of management of natural resources aiming to facilitate human life and socio-economic activities. However, most of these examples are characterized by vertical decisions, lack of social participation, and hidden power relationships behind the management of strategic resources. Even the so called Climate Change is also subject of socio economic and political factors behind the negotiations on greenhouse-gas emissions trading, international climate policy and clean technologies initiatives. Technical arguments have been predominant and far less attention has been paid to the impacts of climate change on societies, global equity, environmental justice and human rights. Moreover, the past certainly counts, and most of the environmental concerns we are facing today, are the exacerbation of economic and social deprivation in many regions of the world, particularly in those communities that were facing extreme life conditions, with already vulnerable access to safe water, food security, diseases, and of course droughts, floods, etc.

Contributions are welcome that focus on locally defined/ politically built social responses to environmental impacts related to development concerns, climate change impacts, environmental conflicts, displaced people, health and environmental impacts, environmental rights and territorial conflicts. These subjects should be treated in relation to strategic resources including water, energy, mining, soil and air, as well as climate effects.


  1. Risk and Disasters in Global Society

Risk is a condition inherent to human societies. Disasters are just one of the expressions of loss resulting from conditions created by “development” and “progress”. Current relationships between different societies in the world promote closer interactions, and responsibilities for confronting and recovering from disasters are shared. This call seeks contributions that explore differences and similarities between recent disasters, as well as resulting lessons that can be identified to reduce the impacts of future disastrous events. Some pertinent questions include: What explains differences in government responses to risk and disaster (es. civil protection, emergency management, etc.)? How can we understand the role of human rights in risk-disaster discussions? Is “solidarity” which is a real “family feature” of global society adequate for disaster response and relief?


  1. Violence and Security

The safety of people is based on the satisfaction of rights guaranteeing access to basic goods and services for a decent life and to the protection of life and property. This volume seeks contributions that focus on the safety of persons from this holistic view. Potential contributors are invited to answer main (but not exclusive) questions such as: how do people search for and manage their security? What ties and values ​​are established in this search? How do we fight the factors that limit access to security? How can we increase security in a globalized world?


  1. Borders and Migration

Borders, borderlands, boundaries and frontiers are political phenomena that are relatively recent. Humans, however, have marked territories for millenniums and today biometric technology allows states to implement borders on every mobile object or being; indeed, objects and beings now carry their borders everywhere they go – ‘lines in the sand’ remain but new bordering processes take place everywhere in new, sometime invisible forms: This volume call for contributions focusing on borders and migrations: Central questions include (but are not limited to): how do borders come into being? What are the material and immaterial manifestations of borders and their impact on migrations, in particular, when the body is coded and migration control embedded. What turns frontiers into barriers? Do borders and migrations have life cycles?


  1. Public Health & Well-being

The rise of the welfare state, and its more recent neoliberal interpretation, has not necessarily provided all of the guarantees necessary for good health and well-being, especially for vulnerable and non-traditional populations. Health and well-being often are rallying points for community action, and even more so in the absence of effective or appropriate state policies.  This volume calls for contributions that focus on community-based health and well-being actions and initiatives.  Central questions include (but are not limited to): How do communities mobilize to improve their local health environment (water projects, recycling, urban gardens, etc.)?  What health-seeking activities do they engage in that are not officially sanctioned or programmed?  How do people symbolize differentially good health and well-being (personally and socially)?


  1. Governance and Democracy

     How do we know a high-quality democracy when we see it? Although most democracies allow (quasi) universal participation and competition for elected office, the extent to which citizens can participate effectively in democratic processes varies greatly within and across countries. These differences suggest that countries with similarly “democratic” governments might foster conditions under which citizens are more or less able to take advantage of those democratic institutions. At the same time, democratic governments may vary greatly in their capacity to ensure the rule of law, security and conditions for effective participation by citizens in their social and political community.  We seek contributions to this volume that address the quality of democracy by exploring the possibilities for democracy to loosen the stranglehold of poverty, insecurity and weak rule of law that continue to buffet citizens of democratic nations throughout the world.  Written and photographic contributions may explore both the conditions under which the forces of poverty, inequality and/or insecurity might affect the quality of democracy, and how, in turn, democracy might shape the prospects for citizens to escape the pernicious and often-reinforcing traps of poverty and exclusion.