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Representing, Remembering, and Reimagining the Francophone Islands

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Organizer: Coralie de Mazancourt

Co-Organizer: Nanar Khamo

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European colonial discourses about islands have created a tabula rasa upon which colonizers have built their own stories. The colonial imaginary has cast islands as socio-political ecological utopias and has perpetuated a wealth of stereotypes. In the Francophone postcolonial context, island authors have reinscribed local subjectivities on the islands and have questioned the legacy of French Empire, as well as the ways in which France attempts to keep certain colonies such as the DOM-ROM within the nation. The contributions of Caribbean Francophone writers to postcolonial thought are widely acknowledged, whereas those of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific are progressively gaining recognition.

In this seminar, we will explore how Francophone authors and artists rewrite the island tropes and develop political philosophies that are grounded in cultural and historical specificity. Their work in creolizing literary forms and producing epistemologies that stem from local experiences is especially important given that the colonial trope of the island has dissolved specificities and disregarded indigenous traditions. We will probe the formal means they create to represent marginalized communities and the violence that is the underside of the tropical postcard. We will interrogate their artistic techniques that delve into the material, cognitive, and affective legacies of slavery and indentured labor. Finally, we will explore how they propose conceptions of islands as prisms through which to challenge the logics of neo-colonialism, globalization, and neo-liberalism. They offer counter-models to these logics in forging networks of solidarity in archipelagoes.

Topics might include:

Island tropes in colonial travel literature
Insular responses to littérature-monde en français, World Literature, and literary prizes
Transinsular, transoceanic, and translingual collaboration and theoretical dialogues
Postcolonial ecocriticism
Alternatives and rearticulations of the terms “island” and “postcolonial”
Insular space-time
Mobilities and routes
(Post)memory, affect, and healing
Multidirectional memory and minor transnationalism

Please submit an abstract of 200-300 words along with a short bio.

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