EMMA (Etudes Montpelliéraines du Monde Anglophone,Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France)
in partnership with Coastal Carolina University (SC, USA) and MIGRINTER (UMR CNRS-Poitiers, France) is setting up a five year program

Ecotones: Encounters, Crossings, and Communities

An « ecotone » is a transitional area between two or more distinct ecological communities, for instance the zone between field and forest, mountain and ocean, or between sea and land. The two ecosystems may be separated by a sharp boundary line or may merge gradually. An « ecotone » may also indicate a place where two communities meet, at times creolizing or germinating into a new community.

We will be borrowing this term traditionally used in environmental studies and geography, and apply it to postcolonial studies in disciplines such as literature, history, the arts, translation studies, the social and political sciences, ethnic studies, ecocriticism, etc.

In the continuity of the program « Diasporas, Cultures of Mobilities, ‘Race’ » that was implemented by EMMA (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier, France) in partnership with several universities between 2011 and 2013, « Ecotones » seeks to continue exploring the « complex chemistry » of creolizing worlds (Robin Cohen), the « contact zones » between cultures (Mary Louise Pratt) in contexts such as migration, diaspora, refugee movements and other postcolonial displacements and environmental evacuations, among other major historical events.

Conjointly with the social sciences, pride of place will also be given to the literary and artistic representations of these micro and macro transformations, to the ways aesthetic forms not only represent but also contribute to shaping and modifying a process.

The ecotones, as points of contact or points of friction, between the Indian Ocean, the South and East China Seas, the African continent, the Caribbean and the North American continent will provide the main frame of approach. The use of concepts like « diaspora space » (Avtar Brah) and « Afrasia » (Gaurav Desai) will be beneficial.

The emphasis will be put on communities in their relation to place, neighborhood, and environment, including the precise circumstances these communities are modified over periods of time, the factors of change, and the many ways these elements are represented and mediated in literature and the arts. How do the languages, the cultural practices, the scientific knowledge, and environmental concerns meet and transform in these newly constructed ecotones? How does the merging of different ecologies and communities produce creolization and new identities? What postcolonial approaches to global ecologies (Elizabeth DeLoughrey) can be set up in the context of « transcolonial » relations (Shu-mei Shih and Françoise Lionnet)? Can we identify an emerging cosmopolitics in these contact zones (Michel Agier) ?

The modalities of such processes of (re-)invention will have to be examined from different angles, taking in the conflicts and the productive exchanges and frictions between the other and the self. Literary and political movements and the history of ideas necessarily cross paths and pollinate, following different routes and creating a multiple and diverse universe, in which a single and fixed origin can only be questioned.

Specific lesser-known communities will be focused on to understand how new relations to specific places are being formed as we speak, and constitute new forms of belonging, bonding, and citizenship. The aim is to understand how everyday practices, languages, customs, beliefs, rituals and ideas evolve, maintain themselves or transform, when two communities merge with, or confront each other. What are the realities when one community takes precedence over, or absorbs, the other one, when religions, cultures and languages are implanted in postcolonial locales across the globe. How do the descendents of two indentured or migrant communities, for instance, negotiate the space and interact with each other ? Keeping in mind the multiple interpretation of the term, micro-spaces will be examined to understand how they are negotiated and represented.

A series of interdisciplinary events will be co-organized by EMMA (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France), Coastal Carolina University (SC, USA) and MIGRINTER (UMR CNRS-Poitiers, France) in collaboration with partner universities.
Specific calls for papers will be circulated to create networks, announce conferences and workshops, and set up events. Publications will be planned in the different venues and at other partner universities.

The 3-G Network on the three Guyanas (Guyana, French Guyane and Suriname) will bring into focus one of the best possible examples of Ecotones in the literal and metaphoric interpretations of the word.
2015 being the 40th anniversary of the independence of Suriname and 2016 the 50th anniversary of the independence of Guyana, will provide excellent opportunities to bring that part of the world into the limelight, in relation to 70 years of départementalisation in the French Guyane.
Events will be hosted in Amsterdam (October 2015, University of Amsterdam, University of Antwerpen, Université de Liège, the Université Catholique de Louvain and Werkgroep Caraïbische Letteren), Montpellier (June 2016, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3) and London (October 2016, Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Studies, University of London).

The modalities will be defined in separate forthcoming announcements.
Feel free to send an email if you wish to be kept informed of developments and events.

Co-convenors of the Program « Ecotones » and Coordinators of the 3-G Network:
– Dr Thomas Lacroix (MIGRINTER, UMR CNRS–Poitiers, France)
– Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France)
– Prof Maggi Morehouse (Coastal Carolina University, SC, USA)


Ecotones 5 – The Caribbean: Vulnerability and Resilience at Manhattanville College June 21-22, 2019

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


An “ecotone” initially designates a transitional area between two ecosystems, for example between land and sea. The “Ecotones” program (2015-2019) 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 the social sciences and the humanities. An “ecotone” can thus also be understood as a cultural space of encounters, conflicts, and renewal between several communities (Florence Krall).

The Ecotones 5 conference will include an interdisciplinary study of the wider Caribbean as a space of cultural, historical, geographic, and linguistic diversity, a meeting place of peoples from different corners of the world. Central to this study is the idea that the Caribbean is a dynamic and heterogeneous space that has clearly been shaped by the persistence of colonialism. Colonialism created an exploitative and extractive economy based on forced labor which in turn led to multiple forms of resistance beyond rebellions and revolutions that were endemic throughout the region. Recently, the region's response to several natural disasters has also demonstrated multiple forms of resilience. 

These forms of resistance and resilience can be seen in the wide array of literary/historical/ social/nationalist movements that came after the end of colonization. Postcolonialism gave rise to movements such as Antillanité and Créolité that stress the multiplicity of the Caribbean experience. More recently, the idea of littérature-monde “echoes antillanité and créolité in that it calls both for an end to French ethnocentrism while advocating for a ‘return to the world’” (Moudileno). This multiplicity is evident in Fernando Ortiz’s use of the term “transculturation” which stressed the merging and converging of cultures. This hybrid nationalism that Ortiz espoused and Albizu Campos epitomized, saw the Caribbean as an area that embodied hybrid postcolonial identities. Ortiz’s “transculturation” is echoed by Gilroy’s “Black Atlantic” which is a singular discrete work that uses the “Atlantic” as a geopolitical unit that carves out a cultural-political space for the discussion/creation of a hybrid Caribbean. Both concepts challenge the centrality of Europe through the use of indigenous languages and cross-cultural imagination.

We invite proposals on a wide range of topics related to Caribbean as listed below, but encourage those that relate to the Caribbean as a space of vulnerability and resilience in light of natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, including the repercussions of the massive earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 and the aftermath of more recent hurricanes, Irma and Maria in 2017, that devastated Puerto Rico, Dominica, and Barbuda, among other Caribbean islands. Proposals related to networks and support systems of all kinds among various communities of the Caribbean diaspora in the New York metropolitan area would be of particular interest.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:
In History and the Social Sciences
Economics and politics of the Caribbean
The colonial and postcolonial Caribbean
The Regional and Diasporic Caribbean
Gender and Sexualities
Slavery and Slave revolts
Plantation Culture
Racial and Ethnic Relations

In the Arts, Literature, and the Humanities:
The Literatures of the Caribbean
The Visual Arts
Créolité, Antillanité, Littérature-monde
Center and Periphery
Limbo Gateway
Tropological Revisions
Film and Digital Media
Musical Traditions in the Caribbean and the Black Atlantic

In the Sciences
Natural Disasters and the Caribbean
Ecology and the Caribbean
Global warming and the Caribbean

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: Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY, USA.
Dates: June 21-22, 2019
Language: English
Deadline for submitting proposals: December 15, 2018
Notification of acceptance: February 1, 2019

Ecotones 5 Organizing Committee
Nada Halloway, Associate Professor of English, Manhattanville College
Binita Mehta, Professor of French, Manhattanville College
Gregory Swedberg, Professor of History, Manhattanville College
Wil Tyrrell, Director, Sister Mary T. Clark, RSCJ Center for Religion and Social Justice, Manhattanville College

Ecotones Program Coordinators
Thomas Lacroix (MIGRINTER, CNRS-Poitiers)
Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3)
Maggi Morehouse (Coastal Carolina University)



Ecotones 4 - Partitions and Borders at Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta December 13-15, 2018

in partnership with Concordia University (Montreal, Canada), EMMA (Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3) & MIGRINTER (CNRS-Université de Poitiers)éens-et-internationaux/ecotones

Confirmed keynote speakers :
Dr Annu Jalais (National University of Singapore), and Prof Srilata Ravi (University of Alberta)



An ‘ecotone’ is a transitional area between two or more distinct ecological communities, for instance the zone between field and forest, mountain and ocean, or between sea and land. The two ecosystems may be separated by a sharp boundary line or may merge gradually. An ‘ecotone’ may also indicate a place where two communities meet, at times creolizing or germinating into a new community.

After the first three conferences held in Montpellier, Poitiers and Reunion island, ‘Ecotones 4’ will focus on one area that has served as an ecotone for centuries. This is the area of Bengal in East India, an ecotone area between Europe, the Indian subcontinent and the Far East. With its unique position, the region has been criss-crossed for centuries, by travellers, traders, colonists, refugees, pirates and missionaries of diverse racial, religious, linguistic, regional and national affiliations from all over the globe.

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 cultures, 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 proposed areas of interest of this conference will be around the following issues:

  1. Migration into and out of the ecotone area,
  2. Socio-cultural and economic aspects of such im/migrations,
  3. Trans-regional ties as a consequence of these im/migrations,
  4. Fluidity and porosity of borders,
  5. Heterogeneity and confluence of identities
  6. political definition and redefinition of borders and identities
  7. changes in the geographical map of the region and its impact upon the nature of the ecotone
  8. natural calamities and forced migrations

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 trust 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 to arrive at theoretical or thematic understanding of ecotone areas, in Bengal and elsewhere.

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: Ecotones 4 Kolkata

Each presentation will be 20 minutes (followed by discussion time). All methodological and theoretical approaches are welcomed. We also invite creative interventions suggesting fresh topics. A selection of papers will be considered for publication at the conclusion of the series of ‘Ecotones’ events.

Venue: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta

Dates: 13-15 December, 2018

Language: English

Deadline to send a proposal: March 15, 2018

Notification of acceptance: April 15, 2018

Scientific committee
Dr Thomas Lacroix, MIGRINTER, CNRS, Université de Poitiers, France
Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak, EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier 3, France
Dr Nalini Mohabir, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
Prof Maggi Morehouse, Coastal Carolina University, SC, USA

Organising committee
Prof Rosinka Chaudhuri (Centre for the Study of Social Sciences Calcutta)
Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France)
Dr Nalini Mohabir, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

‘Ecotones’ Program Coordinators
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)



Ecotones 3: Indian Ocean: Ecotones, Contact Zones, and Third Spaces Observatory of Indian Ocean Societies, University of Reunion Island June 14-15, 2018

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




Ecotones 2: Experiences of Migration and Transformations in the Ecotones University of Poitiers (MIGRINTER) 22-24 June, 2017



Ecotones 1 : New Ecotones 11-13 juin 2015 Montpellier