Breaking grounds, inventing territories : The Imaginary of the Americas-Lille (France) Nov. 14-16, 2013

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Univ. Lille 3-Insitute of the Americas
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Categories of criticism that were initially developed following the birth of nation-states have long served their (mostly academic) purposes well -neatly ascribing whatever was remarkable in the arts or literature of the Americas to the familiar and accepted factors of “national origins” or national history, with scholarly classifications and modes of cognition duplicating, as on library shelves, the attendant territorial boundaries of countries.
From new aesthetics, however, new practices have emerged and vice versa, along with new ways of representing the world. The categories needed to account for such recent or not-so- recent changes need to be consistent with the evolving dynamics of literary discourse and visual representation that entail permanent displacements along itineraries they have served to objectify, or not, in singular or unprecedented ways. Exploring the literatures and visual arts of the Americas, this conference would like to address inchoate or incipient phenomena in the field in an attempt to ascertain their nature and their impact on critical or cognitive categories which they elicit. These, in turn, are likely to reflect backwards on the objects that contributed to shape them in the first place.
To do so is to engage with the logic of cultural exchanges within the Americas and between the Americas and other continents, but we cannot be content with assuming that this underlying logic is a mere outgrowth of globalization, the under-theorized development of a worldwide market which operates in similar ways for commodities and ideas. Capturing the epistemological relevance of literary or artistic tropisms involves tracing the extensive scale-shifts that have occurred over the past decades back to whatever it is they owe their expanse to.
Prospective discussions might profitably be initiated by the image of the radicant plant, a botanical metaphor that Art critic Nicolas Bourriaud, has recently come up with. Carrying with it intimations of the nomadic and the itinerant, it may undermine the notion that ethnic, national or personal identities in conflict, or , as the case may be, in congruence have been essentially the main source or a major factor in the shaping of cultural productions that are “rooted” in the cultural legacies of historical or political frames solidified over time. When critical attention is deflected from territory to locus, from contingencies of materiality to the shifty impermanence of objects on the move, transfers, transpositions, repositionings, displacements and dislocations come to mind as the more adequate words to tentatively describe whatever crops up along the meandering ways of unpredictability, even as it generates the “unmapped localities of exile” (Alexis Nouss). The “end of art” may not be in sight, but what remains to be seen is whether what we strive to visualize as an open-ended activity of discursive or visual creation is infinite change or indefinite process.

300-word proposals to Bruno Monfort by Dec. 1, 2012.

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