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Culture/Identity/Politics: Eloge de la créolité, twenty- five years on

International Conference, 21-23 October 2014

 Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, Florida State University

 Confirmed Speakers: Dominique Chancé (University of Bordeaux), Françoise Lionnet (UCLA), H. Adlai Murdoch (Tufts University), Richard Price (College of William and Mary), Sally Price (College of William and Mary)

 elogeSince its publication in 1989, Éloge de la créolité has had decidedly mixed fortunes: generally received with enthusiasm on its first appearance, it rapidly became very controversial and has subsequently been widely critiqued to the extent that one wonders whether it retains any capacity at all to illuminate the cultures of Caribbean and Creole societies.

To mark the 25th anniversary of its publication, this conference poses that very question, and foresees three broad areas of discussion: first, the fortunes of the Éloge itself and the subsequent work of its authors; second, the ways in which the Éloge has been received by and influenced other “Creole” authors and cultures; third, other theorizations of Caribbean identity and culture that have developed over the past 25 years.

A central focus will thus be the impact of the Éloge and its formulation of creoleness; we will ask if despite the criticisms it has received it has in some unrecognized ways advanced the general understanding and enhanced public awareness of Caribbean and Creole cultures; if the Éloge and the very concept of creoleness have a future, or now appear merely anachronistic.

At the same time, the conference will also look more widely at the question of cultural identity and identity politics in the Caribbean over the past 25 years. The Éloge constituted an early intervention in this broader debate, which has developed vigorously over the subsequent quarter-century, and it can only be evaluated within that context. Its claim to replace essentialist racial identities with an ever-evolving “diversalité” has been disputed by a variety of other authors from the Caribbean and beyond; and “creoleness” has to a large extent been supplanted by “creolization”. The Eloge therefore needs to be compared, explicitly or implicitly, with the work of other authors on Caribbean culture and identity.

We invite proposals in English, French, and Creole for single papers and full panels on the themes of the conference, and on the following, non-exhaustive list of topics:

  • With the benefit of twenty-five years hindsight, the significance of the publication of the Éloge, and the relevance of the arguments surrounding it today.
  • How has the work of the three authors of the Éloge changed in these 25 years?
  • The effect of the Éloge on cultural debates in the Caribbean, and more broadly.
  • In so far as the Éloge is also a literary manifesto, its influence on the literary production of the area, and on critical studies of the latter.
  • Is Caribbean writing still, as the Éloge claimed, in a state of “preliterature”?
  • The relationship between the concept of creoleness and that of creolization.
  • To what extent can the concepts of creoleness and creolization developed in the Francophone Caribbean be applied to other parts of the Caribbean and to other regions of the world?
  • The intersections between theories of creolization and issues of race, social class, gender, and sexuality.
  • The status of “minor” Caribbean ethnicities (e.g., East Indians, Syrians, Chinese) in discourses of creolization
  • The work of other theorists of Caribbean culture and identity (e.g., Glissant, Ménil, Brathwaite, Benítez-Rojo).
  • The role, if any, of definitions of cultural identity in the political struggles of the Caribbean.
  • The Éloge and the history of Caribbean literary manifestoes.
  • How has the Éloge advanced, or otherwise, the status of Creole languages?
  • Créolité and the marketing of Creole cultures (in, for example, publishing and tourism).

The deadline for proposals is 1 March 2014.

Please submit proposals online at this address:

http://www.winthropking.fsu.edu/Events/CULTURE-IDENTITY-POLITICS

For further information, please contact Martin Munro (mmunro@fsu.edu) or Celia Britton (celiabritton@btinternet.com).

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