Waving Borders/Affranchir la frontière

deadline for submissions: 
July 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
University of Montreal

International symposium of the research project « Out of place : Law, literature and migration » (SSHRC), organized in collaboration with La maison de la Syrie

Call for papers 

November 22-24 2018


Organizing committee : Marie-Eve Bradette (University of Montreal), Laurence Sylvain (University of Montreal), Simon Harel (University of Montreal) and Youssef Shoufan (La maison de la Syrie)



No borders. No fences. Free movement for all.



Conference topic

            While thinking about literary or judicial narratives as well as visual and cinematographic expressions produced in contexts of political displacements, the very notion of territory, in all its more normative and prescribed aspects, appears as a central issue. There is no possible access to the asylum without, at first, a geographic, but also a symbolic border that needs to be crossed, a border that shapes the nation-states and is thereby regulating the possibility of free movement. Displacements across borders are always regulating under the cover of the Law and oftentimes refused under that same Law. Actually, the political issues of the United States under the Trump’s administration and the planning menace of a wall separating Mexico from the USA is an acknowledgement of that affirmation. The world as known is divided, fractured in its composition, its geographies and the very possibility of displacement are necessarily influenced by that segmented shape of the world.

    The question we need to ask is the following: What happens when there is a (re)invention or a (re)creation, with and through artistic imagination, of those national boundaries? Must we, then, talk about Weltliteratur as Goethe already thought about it in the early XIXth century? Or think about World Literature following the anglo-American model inherited by postcolonial theories, or even of the concept of the “Tout-Monde” defined by Edouard Glissant? Should we, instead, insist on planetary epistemologies? Those planetary epistemologies offer ways to think about concepts such as migration, migrance, displacement and the political refugee in terms of ecology, environmental economy and, therefore, renewing studies about creative practices of migration. Indeed, planetarity is a world-system in multiple levels which supposes the consideration of forms of interactions between divided and stable territories. There are, on one hand, those spaces where human rights are systematically violated as well as others where, at the level of the Law, extraterritoriality operates as to give the refugees a safe place to live.  

    In the last 3 years that correspond to the development of the research project « Out of place : Law, literature and migration », the focus has been directed to questions of narrative representations (conference La figure du réfugié: représentations littéraires, artistiques et médiatiques, ACFAS, 2016) as well as judicial representations (Workshop on the Figure of the Migrant in Law and Literature : Common Places, Norms and Evolving Narratives, Université Ryerson, 2016). Therefore, questions of territories and boundaries have always been part of the discussion as they are central issues when addressing the figure of the refugee. What we are looking forward to, with this symposium, is to put that issue back at the forefront. From the figure of the refugee, we want to operate a change in the conceptual paradigm to move toward the displaced that links together the two part of the French project’s title (Réfugié.e.s et déplacé.e.s). Doing so, we need to decenter the gaze toward the figure as a sole person to think about semantic possibilities of the displacement as well as the figurations of that displacement, figurations that need to be address as aesthetic actions and creative productions of space.


Thematics to be explored

In order to engage in a critical reflexion about the displacement, construction and creation of territorial borders, we propose the following research topics which are not exclusive :

-       Divided territory and obstacles to displacement

-       Confinement writings, writing about refugee, borders writing

-       Territory and Law

-       Asylum and planetarity

-       Imaginaries and human right for climate refugees

-       Displacing the mother tongue

-       The I as a territory, as a border

-       Territory and corporality

-       Memories and territorialities

-       The space of writing/Writing the space

-       Migration and science fiction

-       Representation as a transitional space

-       Language and translation in the context of migration

-       Displacement as a meaning for writers/artists of the 2sd and 3trd generations

-       Gender identity and migration


The symposium, organised in the context of the SSHRC’s research project « Out of place : Law, literature and migration » and with the collaboration of the non profit organization La maison de la Syrie is a site for interdisciplinary encounters and critical reflexions about new faces of political displacement (migration, refugee) in a planetary context where the notions of space and ecology need to be addressed throughout renewed theoretical and creative frameworks (fiction, science-fiction, ecocriticism, etc.).

You are invited to submit an individual proposal or a panel proposal (3-4 communications). For a panel submission, please make sure to send us an abstract of the theme of the panel as well as a proposal (250 words) for each contribution. The organization of a round table or of an interview with an artist, a writer, a filmmaker, by example, is also possible and encouraged. Finally, original format are welcomed and will be prioritized.

Please send your proposal to the organizing committee before July 1st, 2018 at refugiesetdeplaces@gmail.com. Authors will be informed of the committee decision by August 2018.