Poetry and anthropology, poets, anthropoets and anthropologists: crossing, borrowing, influencing, returning home in the Americas and the Pacific Rim (1960s-)

deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Peggy Pacini / CY Cergy Paris Université
contact email: 

Poetry and anthropology, poets, anthropoets and anthropologists: crossing, borrowing, influencing, returning home in the Americas and the Pacific Rim (1960s-)

Médiathèque du patrimoine et de la photographie (Charenton-le-Pont, France)

| September 18-19, 2023


Organizers : Peggy Pacini, Gérald Peloux, Anne-Marie Petitjean (CY Cergy Paris Université, UMR Héritages)


This conference, organized by members of the research center UMR Héritages, wishes to put in perspective different literary modes of writing, especially in the field of contemporary poetry in the Americas and The Pacific Rim. The work of Nishga poet Jordan Abel, invited at the conference, will help us recontextualize — in the light of his first volume The Place of Scraps (2013) — the dialogue and crossings between poetry and anthropology in creation, research-creation and edition, it will also help us engage in a collective reflection on the possible dialogue between writing the self and the world (poetry) and cultural representations and the understanding of cultures (ethnology/anthropology), offering a perspective on how the contemporary self (in poetry and anthropoetry) reflects on culture, identity and creation. The dialogue between poetry and anthropology is a long ongoing one (Friedrich, 1978; Howes, 2022; Dragani, Adell and Debeane, 2018; Reichel, 2021), which nonetheless seems to be undergoing a mutation or evolution that cannot be isolated from the socio-political and environmental issues raised by globalization.

To address this mutation, the conference starts with the 1960s, a period which not only saw the rise of ethnopoetics (Tedlock, Hymes, Rothenberg), but also the growing place of myths and tribal social organizations and cultures (Boas, Kroeber, Benedict, Mead, Malinowski, Levi-Strauss, etc.) within the framework of a new vision of writing, reading and performing poetry.  Consequently, the conference will look into how the primitive and the archaic are used as models in the coming into being of a poetics concerned with sentient beings, one which approaches the Indigenous and First Nations mythology, the ritualistic and the magical as a vehicle to one's awareness of place, one which explores the architecture of consciousness. In this regard, a particular focus will be placed on avant-garde poets and poets from the subculture, who for most of them were already laying the foundations for an ecopoetics, and on how cultural anthropology constituted a first step into reconsidering poetry as a vehicle and the poet as one who "articulates the semi-known for the tribe" (Snyder, 1964).

Moreover, 20th and 21st avant-garde poetry was and is motivated by two often combined stances: 1) breaking loose from a poetry tradition while opening (structurally, conceptually and linguistically) a new dialogic terrain between poetry and other ancestral cultural traditions (in which symbols, myths, the sensorium and orality are constitutional); 2) serving as a springboard to dealing with political, identity, gender, environmental, linguistic or social issues. Poets from the subculture and indigenous communities across the Americas and along the Pacific Rim have since the 1960-70 tried to re- and/or appropriate the essence and lore of indigenous and tribal cultures to reconsider the frameworks and thresholds of poetry (ethnopoetics, ecopoetics, anthropoetry etc.).


A particular attention will be placed on 1) the gaze (internal, external, and liminal) (of the poets, anthropologists, anthropoets) and how it informs the poets/the anthropologists production; 2) translation, transcription, orality, writing, note taking (field notes), etc.; 3) anthropological texts and ethnographic methods (scientific discourse) as reflection, medium, material for poetic creation (research-creation)


Fifty years after the gathering and return of the tribes, to echo the call made at the 1967 San Francisco Human Be-In, and the emergence of ethnopoetics, how has the dialogue between poetry and anthropology evolved, morphed formally and thematically, and taken various denominations in the field of research (ecopoetics, anthropological poetry, anthropoetry, field poetry, research-creation, etc.)?


The following is a non-exhaustive list of topics which could be addressed:

- anthropologists and indigenous cultures: addressing loss, preserving and mythifying

- Indigenous cultures and their influence and imprint on ecopoetics

- Indigenous and Western myths: appropriations, transpositions, borrowings, syncretisms and hijackings in contemporary poetry

- what non-Indigenous poets have searched in Indigenous cultures, what they have found (myths, legends, orality, symbols, communal organization) and how it was translated into building and structuring a poetics rooted in the archaic and the primitive to weave a poetics of relation to confront other poetic forms and media.

- returning home: Indigenous poet journeys to their ancestral cultures (erasure, construction, silences, thresholds, and lacunae)

- the place of anthropology/ethnology/ethnography in poetry and the place of poetry for anthropologists: poets trained in/inspired by anthropology, anthropoets, anthropologists and poets: writing an ethnographic/anthropologic poetry

- when poets borrow anthropologists' tools and methods, when anthropologists write poetry, the poet as informant, poetry as a vehicle, field notes, found poems, etc.

- publishing, editing, anthologizing Indigenous poetry: collections, anthologies (challenges, constraints, methods)

- the state of the art: ethnopoetics and its mutations, ecopoetics, sound ecology, an ecology of relations, figurative anthropology, antropologia poetica, etc.

- poetry and anthropology: borrowings, influence, orality, thinking universal patterns and forms of the visible, experiencing otherness

- how scientific writing informs poetic discourse, how poetry invades scientific discourse

- anthropology and poetry in research-creation


Proposals should be sent to: Peggy Pacini (CY Cergy Paris Université, France) by June 30, 2023: peggy.pacini@cyu.fr