Call for papers

In the perspective of the 2011 CAAR Conference, "Black States of Desire: Dispossession, Circulation, Transformation",  we invite proposals from scholars in any discipline, but also from intellectual, artistic and cultural conversants, and socioeconomic, political, and institutional actors who aim at anchoring Black studies and creations in a social world to be concretely changed with innovative projects. Without being limited, either in number, scope, nor aims, the desired states of being black that the conference hopes to sketch will be related to the key notions of dispossession, circulation, and transformation. Cardinal poles of the worldwide black experience, they also open up the space for mapping and materializing the much-needed black utopias of the 21st century.

Black islands and alternatives to isolation may be one such. Instrumental in slavery, colonization, and in the shaping of modernity, with its long-ingrained racism, isolation has taken many forms including political subjugation, socioeconomic subordination and de-historicization, as the media coverage of the recent Haitian earthquake has shown. It overshadowed the fact that Saint-Domingue-turned-Haiti was the first black republic the social transformation of which was spread throughout the 20th century anti-colonial movements of national liberation all over the world, especially in Africa. The sister islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique may represent the Haitian utopia passed on to the black 21st century.

This is what seems to prove the February 2009 Martiniquan Manifest, which, among others, Patrick Chamoiseau and Edouard Glissant signed in the heat of the Guadeloupean collective mobilization. Its key word, poetical and political, is Lyannaj, which signifies in Creole dynamic and praxis linking individuals, peoples, communities. This urgent need of linkage has also always been carried through the African American text – from Zora Neale Hurston's polyphonic voices to Toni Morrison's re-membered selves and others, from Richard Wright's political commitments to Melvin Dixon's instruments of love.

In opposition to the further dispossession of the dispossessed, and in order to generate a worldwide community based on solidarity, the circulation of black experiences, past and present, is thus of paramount importance. It also needs to include other islanders, unacknowledged or vanishing, such as Blacks of and in Europe, gays and lesbians in Africa or persons with AIDS, whose fundamental rights are denied. Cut off from the wealth and health of the North, they all call out for justice and, from their specific situations and conditions, for a profound reflection on communities – be they inherited or elective: how do they culturally intersect? How can they be politically articulated?
To reach the necessary coalition-building between black communities, it is necessary to consider the multiple identifications and identities that found them, and the cross-cutting issues that impact them. While revisiting the African American literary esthetics of optics, through which things unseen are made evident, contemporary writers and artists, often activists as well, such as Essex Hemphill, Assotto Saint, or Sapphire, have complied with this double agenda. Their commitment to both art and the world prolongs the organic bond between literature and sociopolitical struggles, while eschewing academic aporias, conceptualizations disconnected from black reality, or, up until recently, the delusions promised by the proclaimed advent of, in the United States, the postrace, and in South Africa, the postcolony.
That is the task of all, and particularly of scholars and actors in the Humanities. If reconnected to the social world, starting with a productive connection between disciplines, to which CAAR has been dedicated since its creation, the call for transformation from worldwide black philosophies, arts and literatures may not remain unanswered. In the spirit of the Black Writers Conference, some fifty years earlier, the 2011 Paris Conference "Black States of Desire: Dispossession, Circulation, Transformation" hopes to offer such a reuniting space.


Time schedule

  • Start - Abstract and panel submission: 5, July 2010
  • Deadline - Abstract and panel submission: 5, September 2010

Abstract submission

Submission tool is closed

Dear applicants to the 2011 CAAR Conference,

We are happy to report that we have received an extraordinary high number of proposals (more than 300) for the Paris conference next year which now need to be reviewed. We are looking forward to it! Please note: The abstract submission tool is now closed and there will be no extension of the deadline. The list of accepted individual abstracts and panels will soon be posted on the conference website.

Thank you for your interest in our conference.

Best wishes,
The Paris Conference Organizers

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