Deadline: October 18, 2013

If we must know the origins of belonging and discipline, if we must chart the diffusion of sovereignty and the rule of law among mankind, we have only to delve into the wide valleys of history, for there is no doubt that there, from a bygone era, will emerge the bride of the forest righteous, proffering the reasons behind it all, flowers at her fingertips.

-Francis Marrash of Aleppo, Ghabat Al Haq [The Forest Righteous] (Beirut: St. George Greek Orthodox Press, 1881), 42.



Will the city outlive the forest?

Portal 9, a new Arabic-English journal of stories and critical writing about the city, seeks proposals for its spring 2014 issue, “Forest.”

As logging, ranching, and farming raze forested land across the earth, new practices in forestry, from sewage afforestation in Egypt to the privatization of “services” provided by healthy rainforests in Sumatra, continue to emerge, reconfiguring the dynamic between city and forest.

Ecological, sustainable, and green urbanism have become the buzzwords of recent decades, but can architecture and city planning integrate new technologies with methodologies gleaned from archaeology of urban settlements of the distant past – from the plaza communities of the southern Amazon rainforest to Mesopotamian capitals – to tread unknown frontiers?

As the city transcends the constraints of the natural world, the last decades have raised existential questions regarding the meaning of “forest” vis-à-vis “city.”

Have transformations in urbanization rendered new meaning to “Forest?” What is it, this forest unknown?

Proposals may address climate and the environment, desertification and pollution, cultural identity and belonging, boundaries and natural resource negotiations, and reflections of all these matters in architecture, urban society, and the trajectories of the living city.

Portal 9 explores the nexus of urbanism and culture in the Middle East and the rest of the world, and we seek contributions from emerging writers, graduate students, and seasoned authors. We publish fiction, essays, reportage, criticism, reviews, conversations, academic articles, and visual essays – from photography to illustrations to architectural drawings.

Please consult the Portal 9 submission guidelines and send proposals to by October 18, 2013.

For Arabic, please click here.