International and Interdisciplinary Conference

Research Groups: EHIC (Limoges), CRILLASH (Martinique) and CRLC (Paris)

University of Limoges, October 13-14, 2021


Co-organizers :


Cécile BERTIN-ELISABETH, PR, University of Limoges (14th section)

Franck COLLIN, MCF HDR, University of the Antilles, Martinique (8th and 10th section)


Call for Papers


This conference at the University of Limoges is designed to bring together two archipelagos (or networks of archipelagos) separated by the Atlantic. While scattered, these island chains have attracted and organized the continents between them, provoked migration and exchanges, combined cultures and languages, and claimed to be countries in their own right by refusing marginalization in the face of the great powers of their time. On their sometimes tiny territories, history has imprinted its dramas, just as it has forced heterogeneous peoples—natives, settlers, slaves—to maintain often conflicting relationships on common soil. Given such complex histories, how might archipelagoes help us remodel ourselves in post-colonial and decolonial contexts? Is it possible to go beyond the old divisions, especially marked in such places as Haiti and Cyprus, that still mark these territories and its inhabitants?


Insular spaces, bordered by continents, without a real center, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean have often been compared as interfaces between different worlds that are open to otherness and exchange. What are the implications of this comparison? Is the likeness a vestige of colonial thought that seeks to apply a European maritime model to an ultra-marine context ( Édouard Glissant proposed that the Mediterranean (etymologically the Middle Earth) is “a sea that concentrates” (Entretiens de Baton Rouge, 2008). It shapes the unifying and hegemonic thought of Europe. The Caribbean space, by contrast, is an “arched archipelago,” to use Aimé Césaire’s words, “a diffracting sea” that is able through creolization to foster pluricultural relationships and the synergy of various codes. Derek Walcott advances a somewhat different perspective. He considers the Mediterranean a mythical sea that can be deterritorialized, adapted by different cultures, and expanded to a planet-sized body of water that functions as a stage for the world. The conference will engage such perspectives in an effort to renew our perceptions of these seas and their possible relationships.


The concept of the archipelago is suggestive, first, because islands geographically impose a living space between confinement and the call from elsewhere; second, because insularity is marked by mental and identity codes that must be deciphered and translated; and third, because archipelagoes present an entre-deux, or an “in-between-two”—between islands and continents, between continuous and discontinuous, between center(s) and margin(s). They both link and separate, multiply and repeat, connect and divide. While being scattered lands—lands before the continent (ante-ilhas), suggests Patrick Chamoiseau of the Caribbean (Éduquer en pays dominé, 1997)—they are intensely poetic places where questions of identity percolate. Such characterizations enable a rethinking of the ancient Greek archipelago, from the Balearics to Cyprus, and create an opportunity to test whether the Mediterranean is a referential matrix (Collin-Zerba, 2018).


The conference invites comparative perspectives on these topics from antiquity to the present day. Papers may focus on francophone, anglophone, or hispanophone areas of study and draw on the fields of literature, philosophy, classics, history, geography, the arts, anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and translation studies. The aim is to provide an updated examination of the Mediterranean and Caribbean archipelagos focused on the following possible themes :


  • the archipelago between model and counter-model
  • the islands as interface of complex relations (cultures, colonialisms, circulations, migrations)
  • the construction and coding of plural identities through literature and the arts
  • the mythopoesis and ecopoesis of the locations
  • the conditions for survival of / in the island space
  • the island as country (peyichôra)
  • uses and critiques of the past
  • authors of the archipelago: Cavafy, Ritsos, Césaire, Condé, Glissant, Walcott, Saint-John Perse…
  • translations of archipeleity
  • linguistic porosity and interculturality
  • gender, sexuality, and archipelagoes

The organizers will invite a Caribbean and a Mediterranean writer to the conference in order to generate a living dialogue.


Proposals of no more than 500 words should be sent to Cécile Bertin-Elisabeth ( and to Franck Collin (


Deadline for proposals: April 30, 2021

Announcement of acceptance: May 15, 2021


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