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: Encounters, Crossings, and Communities

Ecotones 4 - Partitions and Borders
at Jadavpur University and West Bengal State University
December 12-15, 2018

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

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.

Venues: Jadavpur University and West Bengal State University
Dates: 12-15 December, 2018
Language: English
Deadline to send a proposal: March 15, 2018
Notification of acceptance: April 15, 2018

Scientific committee
Prof Sucheta Bhattacharya, Jadavpur University, India
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
Prof Sipra Mukherjee, English Department, West Bengal State University, India
Dr Urvi Mukhopadhyay, History Department, West Bengal State University, India

Organising committee
Prof. Sucheta Bhattacharya, Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University
Prof. Sipra Mukherjee, English Department, West Bengal State University
Dr. Urvi Mukhopadhyay, History Department, West Bengal State University

‘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)



An “ecotone” initially designates a transitional area between two ecosystems, for example between land and sea. The “Ecotones” program (2015-2020) 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 also be understood as a cultural space of encounters, conflicts, and renewal between several communities (Florence Krall).

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 Louise 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 geographical, political, and socio-cultural boundaries in a changing world. The interstice then becomes a “third space” (Bhabha, Soya) that promotes cultural mixing and diversity, the emergence of new “composite” entities/identities (Glissant), hybrid alterities resulting from encounters and conflicts, but that also generates oppositions, clashes and other frictions. 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 explore current, ultracontemporary issues and 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, with its processes of “deterritorialization” (Appadurai) and “minor transnationalism” (Lionnet and Shih).

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 diasporization, creolization, borrowing, syncretism, and cross-pollination; -cultural divides and identity cleavages, vulnerabilities, 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, latent threats, and resilience; 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; invisibility, resilience, and the formation of countercultures;
  • colonial literature as “contact literature” (travel narratives, etc.); Indian Ocean literatures, diaspora and migration;
  • 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;translation.
  • 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 d’Art 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)



Ecotones 2: Expériences des migrations et des transformations dans les écotones
Université de Poitiers (Migrinter)
22-24 juin 2017

Cette rencontre s’inscrit dans un cycle de colloques sur la notion d’ « écotone ». Le terme est initialement utilisé en géographie physique pour désigner des espaces de transition entre deux (ou davantage) environnements écologiques. L’objectif est ici de revisiter cette métaphore écologique afin d’éclairer sous un nouveau jour les dynamiques de transformations inhérentes aux changements écologiques, aux migrations, installations, formations diasporiques ou aux émergences de cultures hybrides et ce tant sous l’angle des sciences sociales que des études littéraires.

Les écotones peuvent être analysés par le filtre des effets qu’ils peuvent avoir sur les personnes et les objets qui les occupent ; des liens qu’ils entretiennent avec les espaces qu’ils mettent en relation ; des processus de transformation qu’ils induisent. Ce second colloque a pour objectif de poursuivre cette exploration conceptuelle et empirique en prenant pour objet les subjectivités migrantes et la façon dont elles interagissent avec les écotones. Nous sommes particulièrement (mais pas exclusivement) intéressés par les thèmes suivants :
– Les routes migratoiressont lieux de rencontre le long desquelles l’expérience de la migration se forme et transforme l’identité et l’auto-perception des migrants.
– Les récits de la migration : qu’ils soient spontanés, artistiques ou qu’ils soient suscités par l’administration pour une demande d’asile ou tout simplement par les journalistes et chercheurs, les migrants produisent des récits de leur propre migration. Ces récits mettent en cohérence une série de souvenirs et d’impressions éparses. Ils sont un ordre reconstruit pour convaincre, émouvoir ou répondre aux attentes d’un auditeur.
– Les espaces d’attente de la migration: les trajectoires migratoires sont de plus en plus complexes. Les politiques migratoires restrictives des Etats de destination forcent les migrants à demeurer pour des périodes plus ou moins longues sur des lieux où ils n’avaient pas initialement choisi de s’installer. Ces lieux peuvent prendre diverses formes, que ce soit des camps informels tels celui de Calais, des camps gérés par le HCR ou encore des zones urbaines en pays de transit. Ce sont des lieux contemporains ou encore de lieux historiques qui portent encore les traces des installations plus ou moins temporaires.
– Les frontières sont à la fois des espaces de ruptures et de suture où les statuts des personnes sont redéfinis en fonction des impératifs administratifs et où les identités et subjectivités des migrants sont marquées par les changements de territoires et de catégories.
– Les espaces nodaux des diasporas, produits par l’interconnexion des liens transnationaux, transforment les lieux dans lesquels ils s’inscrivent (que ce soient des quartiers urbains, des espaces insulaires, des édifices religieux ou des marchés locaux…), en espaces où qui et ce qui est présent dépend des liens maintenus avec d’autres parties de la diaspora.
– Migration et transition écologique: la migration environnementale est produite par les changements climatiques de long terme ou encore les catastrophes naturelles soudaines (inondations, tremblements de terre, tsunamis…). La transition écologique devient dès lors à la fois la cause de la migration et le motif d’une transformation de l’espace d’origine et de ses significations.
– Jeunesse et migration : les jeunes en migration se trouvent dans une double transition : entre des espaces et entre deux âges de la vie. Comment, dès lors, rendre compte de la complexité de l’expérience de leur migration ?
– Migration et vieillesse : certaines personnes migrent à un stade très avancé de leur vie. Cette pratique n’est pas moins déstabilisante que la migration des jeunes, mais la subjectivité des personnes âgées est un aspect beaucoup moins étudié.

Le comité d’organisation sollicite des travaux qui abordent les dynamiques sociales, culturelles et artistiques en lien avec les migrations et les capacités transformatives des écotones. Nous encourageons plus particulièrement une analyse des subjectivités migrantes et de leurs expressions sous différentes formes (objets d’art, romans, récits administratifs et histoires de vie collectées par les chercheurs…). Notre intention est d’ouvrir un dialogue interdisciplinaire par la présentation d’analyses littéraires, la comparaison entre des expressions artistiques, des études anthropologiques ou encore en histoire, économie, géographie ou science politique.

Les présentations seront d’une vingtaine de minutes (plus un temps de discussion). Toutes les perspectives méthodologiques ou théoriques sont les bienvenues. Les présentations créatives combinant plusieurs supports audio ou vidéo sont vivement encouragées. Nous invitons les contributeurs à nous faire parvenir un résumé de 250 mots, un titre, le nom de l’auteur(e), une courte biographie (150 mots) et un contact. La date limite de réception des résumés est fixée au 10 janvier 2017. Le dépôt doit être effectué sur le site du colloque . L’acceptation (ou le rejet) de la proposition sera notifiée le 1er mars 2017.  Une sélection des papiers issus des interventions sera publiée dans un volume associant les deux conférences du programme Ecotones 2015 et 2017.

Comité d’organisation
Thomas Lacroix (Migrinter, Université de Poitiers)
Mélanie Pénicaud (Migrinter, Université de Poitiers)
Colette Le Petitcorps (Migrinter, Université de Poitiers)

Comité scientifique
Prof. Catherine Mazauric (CIELAM, Université d’Aix Marseille)
Prof. Laurent Vidal (CRHIA, Université de La Rochelle)

Responsables du programme  ‘Ecotones’
Dr Thomas Lacroix (MIGRINTER, CNRS-Poitiers)
Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3)
Prof. Maggi Morehouse (Coastal Carolina University)


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

This event is the follow-up of a conference cycle on the notion of ecotones. Initially used in physical geography, an “ecotone” is a transitional area between two or more distinct ecological communities. The aim is to revisit this ecological metaphor and see how it sheds light on the transformations inherent in the social sciences such as in migration, diaspora, and settlement studies, while also investigating the hybrid cultures created in the ecotones discovered in literary studies, and explorations into the transitional spaces brought on by ecological changes.

Ecotones can be analysed through their effects on who and what occupies them, through their relations with the spaces beyond them, through the transformative processes they induce. This second conference seeks to investigate further this avenue of research by focusing on migrant subjectivities and how it intersects with ecotonic contexts. We are more particularly, but not exclusively, interested in the following themes:
– The migration routes are places of encounter along which the migration experience takes shape and transforms the self-perception and identity of the migrant.
– Narratives of migration(s): be they spontaneous, artistic or solicited by public authorities for an asylum request or by journalists and researchers, migrants produce narratives of their own migration. They create a coherent story out of scattered memories and impressions. They rebuild an order with a view to convince, move or meet the expectations of a listener.
– The waiting spaces of migration: migration trajectories are increasingly complex. Restrictive migration policies force people to stay in places that were not their primary destination for a more or less long period of time. They may take a variety of forms: informal camps such as Calais, refugee camps managed by the UNHCR, city neighbourhoods in transit countries, among other historical spaces.
– Borders are both breaks and junctures in which migrant statuses are redefined along the lines of administrative categories and where identities and subjectivities are recomposed.
– Diasporic nodes produced by the weaving of transnational threads transform places such as urban settings, insular areas or local markets into spaces in which what and who is in the node affects and is affected by long distance linkages in other parts of diasporas.
– Migration and ecological transition: environmental migration is produced by long-term climate change effects or environmental hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis or floods. They induce mobility strategies of survival or adaptation. Ecological transition is both the cause of migration and a mechanics of transformation of home and its meaning.
– Youth and migration: migrating young adults find themselves in a dual life transition: between places of living and between life stages. How can we account for the complexity of their experience of migration?
– Old age and migration: some people migrate at a very late stage of their lives; this is not less harrowing than migrating at a young age, far from it, but it is not often focussed on.

The organizing committee welcomes papers addressing social, cultural and artistic dynamics in relation with migration and transformative ecotones. We encourage the submission of papers exploring’ subjectivities and their expression through different narrative forms (art pieces, novels, administrative narratives, or stories collected by ethnographic research). Our intent is to open a cross-feeding multidisciplinary dialogue. We welcome examinations of literature, comparisons of artistic expression, investigations of anthropological discoveries, as well as analysis within the political sciences, history and geography.

We invite scholars for a 20-minute presentation of their papers, followed by discussion time. All methodological and theoretical approaches are welcomed. Also, we embrace creative interventions suggesting fresh topics in new media multi modalities. Your proposal should include name, title of Paper/Presentation including a suggested theme, a 250-word description, and a short biography with contact information (150 words). Proposals should be uploaded to the conference website. Notification of acceptance will be given by March 1, 2017. A selection of papers will be considered for publication at the conclusion of the series of Ecotones events.

Organising committee
Dr. Thomas Lacroix (Migrinter, Université de Poitiers)
Mélanie Pénicaud (Migrinter, Université de Poitiers)
Dr. Colette Le Petitcorps (Migrinter, Université de Poitiers)

Steering committee
Prof. Catherine Mazauric (CIELAM, Université d’Aix Marseille)
Prof. Laurent Vidal (CRHIA, Université de La Rochelle)

Co-convenors of ‘Ecotones’
Dr Thomas Lacroix (MIGRINTER, CNRS-Poitiers)
Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3)
Prof. Maggi Morehouse (Coastal Carolina University)


June 11-13, 2015