Re/Membering Place - October 13 - Abstracts due by May 30 2011

full name / name of organization: 
CEMRA - The research group on Modes of Representation in English studies (Stendhal University, Grenoble, France)

The research group on Modes of Representation in English studies, CEMRA EA3016, from Stendhal University-Grenoble III (France) is pleased to announce the organisation of an international conference on "Re/membering Place" to be held at Stendhal University on October 13-15, 2011.

This conference proposes to examine how the notion of "place" is reconstructed by memory, imagination, fantasy, desire, language, myth in a colonial or post-colonial context of displacement, migration, or exile. In The Location of Culture, Homi K. Bhabha discusses the detrimental effects of migration and diaspora which call for gathering in a different place, far from what migrants continue to refer to as Home. In his terms, the experience of migration involves "gathering the signs of approval and acceptance, degrees, discourses, disciplines; gathering the memories of underdevelopment, of other worlds lived retroactively; gathering the past in a ritual of revival; gathering the present" (1994). This intersection between memory and place plays a significant role in narratives and the genres under which they are subsumed.

Depending on the particular historical period or geographical zone in which colonization occurred, displacement, dislocation, uprootedness and the sense of alienation and loss it entails, are experienced differently: by the diaspora, including colonized people who were forced to emigrate, descendants of peoples uprooted from Africa by the slave trade, or post-colonial authors who chose to emigrate and focus on the remembrance and reconstruction of place in their work; British citizens who left their homeland for various reasons and variable durations, by choice to serve the Empire or under forced circumstances (transportation, poverty, forced emigration of women and children), experiencing a sense of exile from their native soil yet unable to reproduce a legitimate or authentic sense of belonging to the invented 'homeland' that emerged from their efforts to domesticate the colony's alien landscape; writers born abroad and who left for England and the Western world and express a sense of loss in their fiction, or writers who, in a colonial or postcolonial context, deal with the theme of exile. For colonized populations, the loss of home and the subsequent sense of rupture and alienation it entails can also occur within the homeland itself. This is the case for Aboriginal peoples expelled from and deprived of their ancestral territories, native populations estranged from a landscape continually defamiliarised by the new meanings (names, roads, boundaries, racialized spaces, colonial architecture, plantation agriculture, mining excavations) imposed on it by their colonizers, and stolen children taken away from their communities and families.

Place, however, can also be understood socially (one's place in the social group or in the family, "to know or keep one's place") and culturally for people who feel alienated, rejected or "out of place". This also raises the question of places exclusively devoted to memory and of commemoration (Ricoeur, Nora). It would also be interesting to consider the absence of space or representations of fragmented space which convey ideas of separateness, be it social, political, ideological or mythical.

Contributors are invited to explore the issue of the conference "Re/membering place" as a process of reconstruction which entails the recreation of memory (be it individual or collective), the re-appropriation of the past and of collective myths, the reshaping or reaffirmation of identity, and the representation of all the many aspects of this process in fiction and the arts (including painting, photography, cinema and a variety of literary forms such as fiction, autobiography, the travel narrative and the memoir), letters, essays, historiography, museography. Discussions will also focus on how memory and personal testimonies, oral as well as written, serve to fill in the blanks of historical discourse, give voice to a forgotten community, revisit historiography and question grand narratives which tend to exclude the (hi)stories of others, thus opposing centralizing monological discourses to the decentralizing polyphony of the postcolonial world (Bakhtin).

Submissions for papers including an abstract (300 to 500 words) and a short bio-bibliographical note should be sent by the end of May 2011 to the organisers Catherine Delmas ( and André Dodeman (
Acceptance of proposals will be communicated by June 30, 2011. All papers must be delivered in English and a selection of the proceedings will be the object of an international publication.
Registration fees : 80 euros