13th to 15th November 2014
Mont-Saint-Aignan, Normandy, France
This conference aims at examining the present state of the interrogations on Americanness from the 1970s to the present day, the concept being understood in the local, national and transcontinental senses of the term. The American continent was and still is a magnet for populations or individuals in search of a better world, people that it has either accepted or rejected all along its history. How does Americanness, whether real or mythical, welcoming or exclusive, serve as a criterion for an identity quest within the constant redefinition and the evolution of the cultural visions of North America and Latin America? Our questioned will inscribe itself within the historical inheritance of America as a land of discovery, conquest and colonization. Our interest will focus precisely on the voices that enable the construction, hence, necessarily, the invention of a world whose novelty now requires questioning: does the New World specifically and uniquely preserve this newness? The question of innovation and continuity, both in time and space, immediately comes to mind to whose interested in the Americas, from cross-perspectives on the geographical and cultural areas as well as the historical periods that are so many landmarks for identity construction.
What “voices” are we talking about? The term is to be understood in a broad sense that should no t be restricted to language, speech and discourse but rather open to notions of focalization, point of view, vision and style, thus involving different media. Those voices, whether historical, historiographic, literary, artistic, political or social, take the past into account to tell the present and head towards the future: what future is there for a multiple Americanness? We will take interest in the plural expression of Americanness through voices from the fringe, from the periphery, the subaltern that, however, are the very fabric of the Americas: immigrants, gays, women, Blacks, Native Americans, Chicanos, all speak out their distinct, unique voices, voices that, beyond their differences, may, however, reveal a form of Americanness that would be built and invented in the light of a questioning on identity categories. Those voices give birth to strategies of composition and structures that enable to express the mix and the plurality as well as to represent diversity, tension, motion and the rejection of a fixed categorization that is necessarily inadequate and sclerotic.
Trying to define a potential American specificity, we are dealing with issues of exchanges and interactions between cultures, whether they evolve on a global or a on a more strictly national level. Cultural plurality, which leads to a questioning of identity, finds an echo in the plurality of genres of expression, which encourages the development of innovative, pioneering discourses, genres that themselves are inscribed in a hybridizing trend where fiction – whether it be literary, pictorial or cinematographic – combines itself with historiography and sociology to create the diversity of the Americas. * In everyday life; a mixed languages halfway between Spanish and English opens out the path for a new identity for immigrants. Is there any future for the survival of the vernacular languages of the Indian populations? * The individual and society: are marginal, peripheral, subaltern voices the new voices through which a new, reconstructed vision of the Americas expresses itself? Which place can be given to the individual in the political and economic systems that structure society? * The individual and space: can migratory movements and nomadism bring about an ever shifting identity of populations?
The cost of registration for presenters is 60 euros. It includes the lunches on November 13 and 14 as well the conference material. Registration is free for students.