CREOLENESS AND FRENCH-SPEAKING AREAS CREOLIZATION : A RELEVANT CONCEPT FOR THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE CITY/PROJECT?
The martiniquan philosopher Edouard Glissant, deceased on february 3rd, 2011, was one of the first theorizers of "globalness". His concept of "creolization", has broken away from the "chock of civilizations" idea, and supported by Samuel Hutington, allows to the understanding of the cross-fertilization of cultures. Yet, it is largely under-utilized, specially in the French-speaking areas. This conference firstly aims at comprehending the different creole identities, the meetings and intermingling of french cultures and the "elsewheres"in order to – at a second stage – apprehending the concept of "creolization" and studying its relevance; how can it be relevant in the appreciation of the evolutions of our societies in the early 21st century?Sociologists, historians, politists, didacticians, and so on, will be asked to confront their theories and methodologies in accordance with this concept.
An idea : « the people university of diversity (Une idée : « L'université populaire de la diversité »).
The second objective of this conference is to propose a new form of cultural and intellectual meeting. Initiated by the association (Non-gouvernemental organization) AgoraCulture, headed by Stéphanie Melyon-Reinette, by François Durpaire, president of le mouvement pluricitoyen « Nous sommes tous la France » (We are all France) and by Christine Delory-Momberger, Professor and director of « Le Sujet dans la Cité. Education. Socialisation. Biographisation », part of the research team EXPERICE at the university Paris 8/13. This conference will be the first encounter of the Popular University of Diversity (Université Poulaire de la Diversité) whose objective is to pass knowledge informally over a larger audience than the one attracted by most scholar conferences, to provoke fruitful encounters between the scholars and the cultural and artistic worlds (singers, slam poets, painters, story-tellers, etc.)
In late 2009, in France, is prominently questioned the issue of national identity, even though sociologists, historians and other researchers had already been interested in it since the 1980s. Yet, this issue seemed much more salient whereas those movements which were deemed « social » – when they'd rather be quelified as identity and revolutionary claimings – upset the French overseas departments ; especially Guadeloupe where the discourse « La Gwadloup sé tan nou, la Gwadloup a pa ta yo.. » (Gwadloup is ours, Gwadloup is not theirs…) seemed to make reappear questionings and a kind of unrest vis-à-vis the French identity (Frenchness) they were given in 1946, when the « départementalisation » was voted.
Various perspectives gave birth to this questioning :
1) The first one was about the dominance of creole identity confronted with France, with the French identity – dare we say frenchness – and Francophonie or French spaces. In fact, isn't the latter, « francophonie », simply an ensemble of geographical areas where French remains as a vestige of colonization. Colonization and assimilation language creating a identity and linguistic divalence – or equivalence (diglossia or bilinguism for example) in those countries. Because there is a glaring distinction between this ensemble called "francophonie" or the French-speaking communities and the fact of loving the French language or "francophilie". And what types of encounters does this coexistence or cohabitation provoke?
2) Secondly, creoleness which is always presented on a singular stance never leaves paths to other forms of identity, linguistic, cultural or political cross-breedings. As a matter of fact, creoleness which could be simply defined as « the ensemble of the creole culture's values », and once again, only gives singularity where there is only plurality. Consequently, the french colonizations (often linked with other influences : spanish, portuguese, dutch…) gave birth to various forms of creoleness which are lived at various levels : identity, collective claiming, legacy culture, vehicular or vernacular languages? A creole was a slave assimilated to the master's culture in contrast with the maroon, the bossals. Was it the same thing elsewhere? In the French West Indies, people don't identify as "creoles" contrarily to Reunionese people. But they eat "creole" food, and speak creole.
I was asked: « And why should we always link this terminology either to négritude or to antillanité (West-Indianness), or else to the Edouard Glissant's Tout-Monde? » It is true that this concept, supported in « Eloge de la Créolité » (1989) written by Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau and Raphaël Confiant, allows the emergence of a movement for the defense of the cultural and spiritual values of the creoles of the French West Indies, and becomes the main neuralgia of a project of postcolonial emancipation and of recognition of the Antillean specificities. Heirs of Aimé Césaire and of Négritude – which was thought as the struggle against assimilation and as a unilateral identification of the colonies and their writers with France – those researchers valued the creole issue. But what about the creole issue in La Réunion? In Madagascar ? What about the creole languages in the Seychelles, in Africa? Are they assorted with a particular identity? Singular identity ? Are they discriminatory ? Are they minor languages ? common or vernacular languages ? Obstacles or vectors ? In front of the domination of the Antillean model in the common thinking, we would like to discover the points of view on the other creole areas.
3) The third point refers to « creolization ». If we consider creolity as a process, a dynamic – like the « oraliture » of Raphael Confiant who paradoxically wanted to graphically and morphologically fix this language whereas it is quintessencially a mutation – how to dfine creolization? The suffix [-ization] would define an action, a process opposed to [-ness/-ity] which would define a fact, "the fact of doing". Identity versus identification. This example is significant. So, creolization must be questioned in opposition with creoleness as a process of the cultural, identity, and legacy constructions, from Slavery until today.
Glissant speaks about this « Tout-Monde », this refusal of an essentializing identity, bound to a territory, a race, a nation, in order to favor an identity in rhizomes. Regarding this Glissantian ideal, creole, creoleness and creolization can't be limited to the West Indies, as every man is a creole, is creolized. Let's dare question this reality: is every language a creole? Is every space creolized and the result of cross-breeding and intermingling? Aren't the great French cities and their « surburbs » laboratories and creolized spaces or in creolization ? Can't we talk about a caribeanization, an africanization and a arabianization of the French cities, of Ile-de-France?
The traditional cultures – apparently passed over through the regional, local and minority languages – might be fundamental and crucial in the foundation of these peoples. Thus, let's question ourselves on the linguistic and cultural evolutions which occur in France: at the crossroads of the minority languages, aren't there new forms of creoles? Languages and cultures?
The French territory and francophonie meeting those islands scattered in confettis in the Caribbean waters and the Indian Ocean. It will deal with incorporate the following frame according to those three points:
- Creoleness and creolenesses: definitions of creoleness.
- French-speaking communities/Francophonie, regional identities and tradition
- Creolization: process of social, cultural and ethnic intermingling and diversity
And at the junction with those various spaces : West-Indies, Caribbean, Francophonie, former french colonies, Africa, Tradition, modernity, languages, cultures, politics, Pacific Areas, Indian Ocean…
This call for papers is directed at scholars (linguists, anthropologists, sociologists, musicologists, ethnologists, historians…), writers, but also artists using those languages or claiming their creole identities, or else setting up new creolization processes (slam artists, rappers, singers, dancers, etc.) and the « tradition supporters » (story-tellers, griots, fonn kerr, and others).
The association holding the project : AgoraCulture
Founded in July 2011 by Stéphanie Melyon-Reinette (PhD), AgoraCulture is a non-profit organization (association Loi 1901) whose letimotiv is to favor exchanges, the thinking and dialogues amongst the different cultures of France. This association is intended to favor multicultural and intercultural experiences and the communication between various cultures through the organizing of conferences (local, national and international), workshops, seminars and debates around cultural topics, whether they are linguistic, social, religious, society, education, ethnic or linked with cultural or artistic practices. Moreover, the aim is to discover cultures, to acquire knowledge and learn history through other spheres than the traditional education system: learn from one's peers, from one's grand-parents, from one's fellows, from the architectural, urban and patrimony archives.
Information and sending of your proposals
Contact : Stéphanie Melyon-Reinette, PhD : firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for the sending : march 31st, 2012
Scholars : send a 150-word abstract (with keywords) to the following address : email@example.com
Artists : send a resume and a link (myspace, youtube or any other)