The Figures of the Migrant and the Representations of Migration in the Arts and Literature

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Le Mans University

The Figures of the Migrant and the Representations of Migration

in the Arts and Literature


 Confirmed Keynote Speaker : Thomas Nail (Denver University)

This international workshop aims to examine the root causes of migrations through the figure of the migrant in the arts (photography, video, cinema, contemporary arts) and literature. The study of migrations through the prism of fiction may help us understand the complex situations of individual characters and consider the political impact of migratory movements. The migrant is a political figure whose representation has ideological and geostrategic motivations, linked to the construction of national spaces and their materialisation by borders that erect barriers on the path of the migrant.

Conference participants will analyse artistic and literary creations which turn the migrant into an aesthetic figure while reinventing it, and the way these creations make his/her precarious status visible. By retracing the migrants’ journey from their homeland to the “promised land”, literature and cinema anchor migration stories into national, local and family narratives. Artistic and literary creations will also be analysed as an alternative means to the expression of a painful past or recovered hope. This subject raises a number of questions about the power of representations: literature and the visual arts restore the humanity of migrants and highlight the subjective complexities and singularities of subjects who are often portrayed as monolithic, by giving them a face and a voice that deconstruct the reifying clichés of the doxa. They have the potential to act on collective representations and can be compared to the media’s; do the arts lead to instrumentalisation or do they articulate a vision that counters political recuperation?

Particular attention will be devoted to contemporary and European representations in this workshop organised within work-package 3 “Artistic Transmission and production” of the interdisciplinary programme AMICAE° (Analyse des Médiations Innovantes de la Culture et de l’Art pour une Europe Ouverte) which aims to analyse and compare different forms of innovating mediations of cultures, of material and immaterial heritage, and to assess the effects in terms of heritage, social integration and citizen participation.

250-word abstracts for 20-minute papers in English or French and a short biography must be sent to,,, before April 15, 2018.