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Ends on January 15, 2018

ECOTONES 4 Kolkata, 12-15 Dec 2018

Venues: Jadavpur University and West Bengal State University

Dates: 12-15 December, 2018

Language: English

Deadline to send a proposal: January 15, 2018

Notification of acceptance: March 15, 2018

In this conference we will explore how a region functions through history as a transitional space between two ecologies. Do these ecotone spaces echo the distinct notes of its two borders, or do these spaces create a unique melody of their own and constitute a third space? How do these ecotone spaces reflect the dynamic flow of people into and out of its precincts? Do they have essential attributes that impact the people who call the ecotone their home? The studies on the culture and the geography of these areas will also enquire into the vulnerability of the ecosystems and of the populations in these areas, the former experiencing a persistent burden from the latter who source their livelihoods from their habitat, while the latter have to bear the brunt of myriad forms of assault.

During its centuries-old history, the region of Bengal has been a space that, like the people who inhabit it, came to be dynamic in nature. This has been a space that has, through history, granted refuge to many — a history that was made possible because of its unique geographical terrain, making it, paradoxically, both easy to access and difficult to monitor. This aspect has been accentuated by the political position of this ecotone area, situated between two nations, and on the Bay that opens into South-east Asia.

Bengal is a transitional zone where the urban and urbane space of North India dissolve into the marshy, rural world of the Gangetic delta; it is a transcultural zone where the racial and cultural ‘purity’ of Brahminical and Mughal India gave way to a syncretic mixture of languages, cultures and ethnicities; it is a  transcolonial zone  where French, British and other European interests intersected and creolized. This plurality can be seen reflected in the cultural  and religious practices, in popular and classical art forms, in public institutions and architecture, as well as in the folklores and customs of the place.

In order to explore the ecotonal nature of the territory from an interdisciplinary perspective,  the conference will identify geographical areas, environmental concerns, historical periods and cultural fields which have been ecotone areas of conflict, confluence and transition.

The conference will work at three distinct levels:

a)      academic — with scholarly papers that analyse the historical, political, socio-cultural and anthropological aspects of the area;

b)      cultural — through story-telling via folklore, textile cultures, songs and pats (pictures);

c)      performative / auto-ethnographic — first-person accounts of people who have either arrived or transited through the area driven by a diversity of reasons ranging from those of livelihood, to that of natural and man-made calamities.

We hope the strong regional focus will give a specificity to the conference, which may then be useful in comprehending the patterns of human behaviour and history so as to arrive at theoretical or thematic understanding of ecotone areas, in Bengal and elsewhere.

We invite scholars for a 20-minute presentation of their papers, followed by discussion time. All methodological and theoretical approaches are welcomed. We also invite creative interventions suggesting fresh topics.  The proposal should include nametitle of Paper/Presentation including a suggested theme, a 250-word description, and a short biography with contact information (150 words). A selection of papers will be considered for publication at the conclusion of the series of Ecotones events in 2019.    


Partner universities for this conference will be Jadavpur University (India), West Bengal State University (India), Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 (France), Université de Poitiers (France).

Organising committee

Prof. Sucheta Bhattacharya, Department of Comp Lit, Jadavpur University

Prof. Sipra Mukherjee, English Department, West Bengal State University

Dr. Urvi Mukhopadhyay, History Department, West Bengal State University


Co-convenors of ‘Ecotones’

Dr Thomas Lacroix (MIGRINTER, CNRS, Université de Poitiers)

Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France)

Prof. Maggi Morehouse (Coastal Carolina University, SC, USA)

Ends on December 15, 2017

Ecotones 3 

Indian Ocean: Ecotones, Contact Zones, and Third Spaces


Observatory for Indian Ocean Societies

University of Reunion Island


in partnership with

EMMA (Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3) and MIGRINTER (CNRS-Université de Poitiers)



June 14-15, 2018éens-et-internationaux/ecotones







An “ecotone” initially designates a transitional area between two ecosystems, for example between land and sea. The “Ecotones” program (2015-20) is a cycle of conferences which aims to borrow this term traditionally used in geography and ecology and to broaden the concept by applying it to other disciplines in social sciences and humanities. An “ecotone” can thus be understood as a geocultural space of encounters, conflicts, and renewal between several communities.


The objective of the “Ecotones 3” conference is to further study these ecotones from an interdisciplinary approach, with a particular focus on the Indian Ocean as a space of mobility and a “contact zone” (Mary Louis Pratt). The exploration of geocultural ecotones, perceived not as mere lines of demarcation and fracture, but also as in-between spaces where tensions are at work, highlights the porosity and instability of socio-cultural boundaries in a changing world. The interstice then becomes a “third space” (Homi Bhabha) that promotes cultural mixing and diversity, the emergence of new composite entities/identities, hybrid alterities resulting from encounters and conflicts. Oppositions, clashes and other frictions should certainly not be overlooked. In the midst of these historical and cultural interplays in the Indian Ocean region, the notion of vulnerability (individual and collective exposure, as well as social and political vulnerability) must also be foregrounded. This fragility can be perceived as a source of potential risks; it can also lead to greater resilience, which requires awareness of this very fragility. The urgency of protecting endangered ecosystems must not make us forget that populations, that are also at risk, are closely linked to these ecosystems. The concept of “slow violence” (Rob Nixon) can certainly be useful in this context. New approaches are also needed to understand how the Indian Ocean region can offer insights into the evolution of the world in which we live at the beginning of the 21st century.


Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:


-In Social Sciences:

-colonial and postcolonial histories: power relations and tensions between communities in multicultural societies and the emergence of “third spaces” where identities are renewed through negotiation;

-the process of transculturation related to voluntary or forced migration, the processes of creolization, borrowing, syncretism, and cross-pollination;

-cultural divides and identity cleavages, modes of opposition and resistance, avoidance strategies;

-migratory processes, the sociology of cities, towns, and neighborhoods;

-interactions between cities and nature, ecological neighborhoods and other alternative hybrid areas;

-spatial planning, the urbanization of agricultural land and the emergence of a liminal third space;

-the mutations of fragile natural environments and latent threats; economic development and environmental protection of coastal areas and insular regions.


-In the Arts and Literature:

-the Other in multicultural societies: artistic and literary representations of “contact zones,” encounters and clashes, negotiations and adjustments, crises and conflicts;

-colonial literature as “contact literature” (travel narratives, etc.);

-the production of a hybrid aesthetic, between appropriation of and resistance to dominant models: processes of creolization, métissage, grafting, subversion, and revision;

-ecocriticism, the poetics of space and ecotones.


-In Linguistics and Creolistics:

-the circulation of languages in the Indian Ocean;

-the processes of “abrogation” and “appropriation” of colonial languages;

-vernacular languages in postcolonial societies;

-the intersections between orature and literature;



We invite contributors to upload their proposals (a 250-word abstract, title, author’s name, a 150-word bio, and contact) to the conference website:

Each presentation will be 20 minutes (followed by discussion time).

A selection of papers will be considered for publication at the conclusion of the series of Ecotones events.


Venue: University of Reunion Island

Dates: June 14-15, 2018

Languages: French and English

Deadline for submitting a proposal: December 15, 2017.

Notification of acceptance: February 1, 2018.



“Ecotones 3” 0rganizing Committee

Corinne Duboin (DIRE, Université de La Réunion)

Anne-Cécile Koenig-Le Ribeuz (DIRE, Université de La Réunion)

Yvon Rolland (DIRE, Université de La Réunion)

Eileen Williams-Wanquet (DIRE, Université de La Réunion)


Scientific Committee

Marc Arino (DIRE, Université de La Réunion)

Markus Arnold (LCF, Ecole Supérieure des Arts de La Réunion)

Corinne Duboin (DIRE, Université de La Réunion)

Thomas Lacroix (MIGRINTER, CNRS-Poitiers)

Carpanin Marimoutou (LCF, Université de La Réunion)

Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3)

Srilata Ravi (University of Alberta)

François Taglioni (CREGUR/OIES, Université de La Réunion)


“Ecotones” Program Coordinators

Thomas Lacroix (MIGRINTER, CNRS-Poitiers)

Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3)

Maggi Morehouse (Coastal Carolina University)