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Intersections between Nativism and Cosmopolitanism

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Organizer: Christina Kkona

Co-Organizer: Sébastien Doubinsky

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Like pharmakon, the term “nativism” includes both the poison and its remedy. It designates 1) essentialist understandings of the world, such as racist ideologies, as well as 2) practices of minor cultures, threatened by the homogenizing politics of globalization. However, “native” (indigenous, autochthon, aboriginal, “first nations”, traditional, regional, etc.) cultural products may constitute a powerful translation of the universal into experiential truth. Neither national nor international, this “remedial” nativism often seeks its values in the vernacular, the folklore or a fantasy of a return to primitive or sacred sources addressing at the same time a claim to cosmopolitanism.
The same can be said of “cosmopolitanism”, which can be both seen as a positive and open form of multiculturalism, or, in a nationalistic and closed perspective, as the loss of a national identity and its so-called “values”.
Nativism and cosmopolitanism therefore appear to be, albeit paradoxically, closely linked, either as complementary expressions of a cultural, social and historical complex identity, or on the contrary, as radical opposites, used by both sides to define their respective territories.
However, these terms evoke also a wide range of connected notions (borders, local, global, national and transnational, etc.), which must be taken into account when analyzing the narrations and representations produced within these frames.
Analyzing both terms in their multiple nuances, this seminar seeks to explore their possible intersections, conflicting or complicit, through the comparative study of specific literary works of different eras and locations. Is the notion of nativism in its double meaning relevant to literary studies? Is it possible to talk about a universalizing nativism? In that case, what connects it with or differentiates it from romantic nationalisms? Our aim is not to exclusively focus on questions of postcolonial, non-European or minor literatures; we also encourage papers that address the ambiguities of European and North-American literatures with a strong local or regional claim.
The seminar will seek to explore the following questions:
1) How can literature reach transhistoric or planetary levels through local/ethic rootedness?
2) How do literary works depict or promote world citizenship without falling into abstractions or turning the cosmopolitan experience into mere heritage?
3) What kinds of narratives revolve around the idea of the « native », either as a locally specific being-in-the-world or as confinement within or exclusion from a specific community?
4) Do modern rewritings or parodies of foundational texts make a plea for the universal or for distinctive local/regional values?
5) Is the notion of the “glocal” just another name for hybridity or a complacent oxymoron that aims to hide the fundamental incompatibility between nativism and cosmopolitanism, or can it still be unravelled in a productive fashion?

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