Francophone Texts of the North and South: Geographical Imaginaries (NeMLA 2021)

deadline for submissions: 
October 11, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Sarah Yahyaoui

Francophone Texts of the North and South: Geographical Imaginaries

Call for Papers - NeMLA 2021 - Online - March 11 - 14, 2021
Due October 11th


The study of Francophone writings in Francophonie has mostly focused on the borders and differences between different countries and regions, France maintaining its central position inherited from colonial times. There is a clear distinction between texts produced in France, which are not understood as part of the Francophone corpus, and a further one made between texts produced in Francophone regions or by emigrants of regions of the Global South: the Maghreb, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Caribbean; and those from the Global North: Europe, and Canada.


Our interest will be in how the Northern or Southern referents can be modulated by different imaginaries of the North and the South. These geographical markers often understood as absolutes can also be modified by the expression and the position of the author: The South of France might be Northern for a Maghrebi author, the Saint-Lawrence valley is Northern for most of French speakers, but Southern for Innu authors. We will study texts from authors established in different Francophone countries and regions and will attempt to see what links are possible between their different representations of geographic markers that have carried meaning mostly as absolutes, and also as synonyms of colonisation from the North towards the South.


We will attempt to build a corpus of representations of the North and South from different literatures of the Francophone world, and try to establish the different modes of writing these geographic markers. We will read the texts not by focusing exclusively on their national context but by studying their representations of what is Northern and Southern, breaking from the absolute of the cardinals in order to constitute modulated and varied Souths and Norths. 


Questions guiding this panel will include:
-How are the South and the North adapted to different writing contexts, and do these markers change depending on the exogenous or endogenous positions of writers from the geographical regions?
-Are there links between the South as written in literatures from Europe and the Maghreb, the North as written in Canada or the Caribbean, for example?
-In which measure are authors able to extract themselves of the center-periphery dynamics of Francophonie to establish their own definitions of what is Southern and Northern?
-How are authors recontextualizing the geographical spaces of the South and North in their writing, what superpositions are possible between the different territories inhabited and lived, and imagined?
-Is there a possibility of reinvention and creation of new localities in modulating the absolutes of the North and South?
-What can Northern and Southern mean outside of their absolute ?

Proposals are welcome in both English and French.
To submit an abstract, please go on the NeMLA portal at : You will be prompted to create an account.
For general queries, please contact Sarah Yahyaoui at : syahyaoui@gradcenter.cuny.