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Diasporas, Cultures of Mobilities, “Race”


EMMA (Etudes Montpelliéraines du Monde Anglophone, Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier 3, France) in partnership with:

is organizing a series of four events around the notions of race and diaspora.

Over the last decade “Diaspora Studies” have become a full-fledged discipline: numerous conferences have taken place, specialized publications have emerged and centers have been created around this field of research. The aim of our initiative is to identify and assess the different evolutions of this field to better understand: 1) how socio-economic and political changes have affected diasporic communities; 2) how literature and the arts, the social sciences and cultural studies have seized that question. This reflection entails a redefinition of terms and concepts, some of which have at times been used in a loose way, and the confrontation of different, but not necessarily divergent, perspectives.

1. Preparatory Symposium: ‘Diasporas and Cultures of Migrations’, June 20-23, 2011, Université Paul-Valéry – Montpellier 3

In a global and increasingly trans-national context, numerous terms, such as “diaspora,” “migration,” “displacement,” “dispersion,” refer to populations of refugees, displaced persons, exiles, migrants and immigrants. Why has one term been preferred to another at a certain period of time or in a certain place? Why has one concept dominated when another was rejected? What are the specificities of and the common points between these diasporas? Specialists of these questions from various disciplines (anthropology, sociology, political science, literature, comparative literature), will be asked to assess the state of the debate in their field, to share reflections and to put them in dialogue in round tables and discussions in preparation for the following event.

2. International conference: ‘Diasporas and “Race”’, October 25-27, 2012, Wake Forest University (North Carolina, USA)

Diasporas have always had to negotiate new articulations of ethnic/racial identities while individuals had to make do with contexts already defined by certain types of racial relations and certain evolutions of racial transnational references. The emergence of new racisms and of new racialized identities reconfigures class hierarchies, which often results in violence against migrants. Does the prism of diaspora allow for a clearer conceptualization of the 
concept of “race” as a socio-historical construction and a surface of projection that depends on context? How can the concept of “race” be imposed, but also how have populations appropriated it? What role does the mediation of art and literature play in these evolutions? A call for papers will be handed out in the Fall 2011.

3. International conference: ‘African-Americans, “Race” and Diaspora’, June 13-15, 2013, University Paul-Valéry, Montpellier 3

The diverse uses of “diaspora” have helped to redefine and renew the field of “African American Studies” and to rethink African American identity in relation to a subject more broadly defined as both racialized and diasporic. The reflection on “race,” central to the
field, will be articulated with that of diaspora to envision the links, the breaking points and the articulations between the two notions. Participants will be asked to interrogate this redefinition of “African American Studies” and to formulate the questions and the new objects of study that this transformation has generated.
Conversely, what has been the impact of “African American Studies” on the fields of “Diaspora and Race Studies” or “Postcolonial and Race Studies”? The term “post-race” stands at the core of heated debates among scholars of the field. Have the different disciplinary fields (social sciences and the humanities) vested interests in preserving 
one concept over another through such and such a paradigm or certain combinations? Finally, are the arts (literature, the visual arts, popular culture, the Internet) privileged markers of these evolutions: notions of avant-garde, of globalization, utopias? Please click here for the call for papers for this conference.

4. Concluding symposium: June 30 to July 2, 2013, Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford, UK

With its three international centres of research addressing matters of diaspora and migration, the University of Oxford will be the ideal venue for the final meeting to take place. It will attract a wide international audience and provide an important point at which to disseminate the initial findings and conclusions for the programs as a whole.

Date change: So as to accept the invitation from IMI, COMPAS, Refugee Studies Center and Oxford Diaspora Programme to join their conference, the concluding symposium will take place from June 30 to July 2, 2013 in Oxford. Two panels will be reserved for papers selected by the Montpellier convenors.