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Ends on January 15, 2018

ECOTONES 3 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, English Department, 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)