New Ecotones

full name / name of organization: 
University Paul-Valery Montpellier

Call For Papers

New Ecotones

EMMA - Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier, France

June 11-13, 2015

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Romesh Gunesekera (London), Elizabeth DeLoughrey (UCLA) and Gaurav Desai (Tulane University)

An "ecotone" is a transitional area between two or more distinct ecological communities, for instance the zone between field and forest, mountain and ocean, sea and land, or imaginatively, the space between North and South, East and West. An "ecotone" may also indicate a place where two communities meet, at times creolizing, or germinating into a new community. We will be borrowing this term traditionally used in environmental studies and geography, and apply it to postcolonial studies in disciplines such as literature, history, the arts, translation studies, the social and political sciences, ethnic studies, ecocriticism, etc.

New Ecotones seeks to highlight social, cultural, scientific and aesthetic practices and explorations. What happens in the liminal spaces where people(s) cross and meet? New Ecotones will encourage investigation of the contested zones, regions, cultures and histories. New Ecotones seeks to explore the "complex chemistry" of creolizing worlds (Robin Cohen) including the "contact zones" between cultures (Mary Louise Pratt) and the "translation zones" (Emily Apter) in a multitude of colonial and postcolonial contexts. Areas of investigation comprise new forms of belonging and bonding including transnational citizenship or cosmopolitics, "transcolonial" relations (Shu-mei Shih and Françoise Lionnet) or "diaspora space" (Avtar Brah). The aim is to understand how everyday practices, languages, customs, beliefs, rituals, and ideas evolve, maintain, or transform when two communities merge, or confront each other. The variety of these intercultural encounters will be emphasized and investigated.

This conference on New Ecotones will concentrate on setting up a theoretical framework for this five-year program and network. Taking advantage of the location by the Mediterranean for this first gathering in the Ecotones program, we invite papers for our inaugural conference investigating the encounters, crossings, and communities formed in relation to specific environments across seas, oceans and continents. Special attention will also be granted to small or even micro-spaces within the many regions settled over different times, and to the very precise impact on the local lives of the individuals or communities of the colonial and postcolonial world.

For this inaugural conference, we would like to engage in theorizing the concepts from a multitude of disciplines and defining the terms of engagement through case studies, investigating particular events and/or places in their relation to locales and communities, identifying the precise circumstances when these relationships are altered and (are forced to) evolve. What are the factors of change, and how are these factors mediated in literature, history, the social sciences, and the arts? How do the languages, the cultural practices, the scientific knowledge, and environmental concerns meet and transform in these newly constructed ecotones? How does the merging of different ecologies and communities produce creolization, new identities and discourses, new ideas and behaviors? To what extent can we interpret aesthetic, philosophical, scientific, political pathways using the metaphor of ecotones?

Pride of place will be given to literary and artistic representations of ecotones as points of contact or points of friction. In these geographies of contact, such spaces as the littoral, the border, the fence, the shore, the beach, the harbor, the swamp or urban forests, among others, will be brought to the fore, as well as the ways these spaces proliferate in the literary imagination and are articulated in the arts. These liminal, transient, sometimes traumatic, spaces where people willingly move to or are forcefully displaced, and where they sometimes stay longer than they had anticipated, will also be considered. Narratives that bring together improbable domains will also be valued as an area of investigation.

We invite submissions of proposals for twenty-minute presentations, and we embrace creative interventions suggesting fresh topics in new media multimodalities. We will endeavor to create a discursive platform for cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approaches. New ways to imagine ecotones are particularly welcomed.

Upload the following information to the organizational website: name; title of paper/presentation; abstract/description (no more than 250 words); short biography and contact information (no more than 150 words). Submit your proposal here:

The deadline to do so is October 31, 2014. Notification of acceptance will be given by January 31, 2015.

Ecotones Program Coordinators:
Dr Thomas Lacroix (MIGRINTER, CNRS-UMR – Poitiers, France)
Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier, France)
Dr Maggi Morehouse (Coastal Carolina University, SC, USA)

This first gathering launches a five-year series of events organized by EMMA (Etudes Montpelliéraines du Monde Anglophone, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier, France), in partnership with Coastal Carolina University (SC, USA) and MIGRINTER (UMR CNRS-Poitiers, France). Each conference will be hosted in a different location focusing on distinct aspects of ecotones. A selection of papers will be considered for publication.

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