Faculty of Humanities Susah (Tunisia) February 25th 2012
Library Journal Faculty of Humanities, Susah, Tunisia
Now that the elections of October 23rd 2011 have taken place, the different parties are about to undertake the task of establishing the new constitution for the country. Such task, being so rare and delicate, does not only imply rigorous decision-making, but also the making of deliberate choices the implications of which would certainly be long-lasting. If the jurisdictional power is about to be delegated, it should not, however, become the definitive substitute to collective thinking. In addition, it has to promote its activity within a context that would be surrounded, supported and framed by the whole society.
Philosophy may claim the concept of constitution to belong to its arena. That is, before entering the judiciary space, the concept used to belong to the realm of ideas. Therefore, our attention will be focused on the principles that provide the foundation of this constitution; such notion of principle falls within our field of competence.
All institutions are concerned with the necessity of rethinking the constitution, and the university may be even more concerned than other institutions.
Within the intention of participating to this collective elaboration, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of Sousse, aims at launching a pluridisciplinary, trilingual journal that would function as a tribune where contributors would confront their intuitions, their research findings and their view points and elaborate the themes that would grant a certain coherence to the explored polemical issues.
This journal, founded by the University Library, is expected to help it promote its background and to open up to students and scholars who work outside of Sousse. The orientation towards specializing in the humanities, which should become concrete in the coming months through a huge project of acquisition, will assume two main directions:
**that of anthropology, with the intention of founding a department consecrated to this discipline
**that of comparative literature (with the intention of acquiring a reliable bibliography, now that the LMD system has assigned a special space to his discipline in the syllabus of Modern Letters)
The application of this project involves three steps:
-the creation of a reading committee and an editorial committee
-Reevaluation of the library's current holdings and its operating procedures: organizing meeting days between the professionals in the field of books in order to enhance an exchange of experience
-Organization of a study day, the content of which will be the basis of the journal's first issue
Therefore, we are launching simultaneously three calls:
-For the recruitment of the members of the reading committee
-For the participation to the expertise days: curators, librarians, documentalists, editors, etc; January, 16th and 17th, 2011
-For the participation to the study day to be held on February 25th 2012
Study Day: the notion of Decentering/Shift
We are interested in the dynamics of the transformation process: the struggles, transitions, transfers, frontiers, that are relevant to individuals as much as they are to institutions, to works of art and disciplines.
Humanity, as described in the Introduction to Psychoanalysis, has undergone in the course of its history three huge humiliations: with Copernic, the earth is no longer the center of the world, and so Man had to give up the idea of place; with Darwin, Man is no longer the son of Man, that is Adam's descendent, but the product of a mere evolution, and so he had to relinquish genealogy and History. With Freud, reason is no longer the master, the psyche eludes, and so he had to drop out the claim to omnipotence. If we are to believe in such a cutting summary, the history of Man would be seen as that of his successive decentering. If the word highlights the quality of those huge steps as shifts/setbacks that had been suffered, the consequences of such changes in perspective have been important in a decisive manner and knowledge has had systematically benefited in a significant way.
To see things through the eyes of the other; to assume the position of the other, comes to turning perspectives upside down, to discovering other approaches, to opening up to the other and so to make progress. Thinking comes to decentralizing the self, dispelling its pervasive and presumptuous image: challenging our self-esteem; modifying the perspective that indulgently places us at the center of the world where we acquire our habits.
The fields where the notion of "decentering" or Shift would apply are innumerable:
The object selected by psychoanalysis, ethnology or anthropology for their respective exploration, and that is founded on the eternal principle of anxiety or uncertainty (Foucault; The order of Things) produces a decentering of the subject vis-à-vis his/her own references, imposing on him/her the confrontation of the strangeness of the cultural diversity, and vis-à-vis the illusory omnipresence and omnipotence of his/her consciousness, unveiling to him thus the unconscious depths of the psyche.
In the fields of the Arts and of Literature, all thinking or rethinking of the subject as the agent or not the agent of creation, are obviously relevant to the context of such debate. Besides, the decentering in the domain of literature takes place in the comparative approaches, allowing thus for a relativization of one's perception of a national literature. Giving a voice to those who have none, making language/speech accessible to women and men from different social and ethnic origins, is to rethink the possibility of a literary pluralism that strives to extract from its comfortable position a certain production that is governed by intellectuals who assume the function of communication to be their right. The notion of shift/decentering has been largely used by postcolonial studies in their attempts to show how certain imperialist powers had considered the annexed/ dominated countries as satellites the productions of which could merely be the minor versions of their own productions. The absurd distinction between French literature and francophone literature unveils a striking trace of such tendency.
Lets think about this idea expressed by Pascal who asserted that: "here is my place in the sun: this is the beginning and the picture of the usurpation of the whole earth". If what is at stake here is a critique of propriety, we may understand the word in its extended meaning, and so suggest that in History and in Geography, what is put into question is the foundation of territories and the consequent generation of exclusion. Societies and states are always defined in terms of centers, displaying claims of merit and even excellence, and enjoying the superiority of a belonging, while scornfully looking at those who do not have access to such joy, or even ostracizing them. Oppositions however get born, together with value judgments, North/South, Capital/Province, first world/third world, etc., the infinite list of difference always implies the binary opposition of domination/subordination.
Any rigorously conducted inquiry leads the inquirer to relinquish his own comfortable position, in order to temporarily accept to adopt another perspective/vision, and through the path of a lateral approach that is distorted and oblique, and that challenges certainties, real discovery is achieved.
Going back to our introduction, that is to the concrete historical circumstances of Tunisia, contributions to the journal should thus allow for a real confrontation between internal and external view points, so that from such clash an authentic reflection is born.
N.B. proposals for contributions to the study day to be organized in February 2012, are to be sent to Faculty of Letters and Humanities of Sousse before January 15th 2012. We are expecting 100 words to 150 words abstracts (guidelines for the publishable forms of the essays will be given to participants later).