HomeBlack Lives Matter: Political and artistic mobilization against systemic racism in the US and the UK

HomeBlack Lives Matter: Political and artistic mobilization against systemic racism in the US and the UK

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Published on Monday, February 06, 2023

Abstract

Within the context of the Black Lives Matter movements in the United States and the United Kingdom in the 2010s and 2020s, this conference will examine antiracist mobilizations and their historical continuities, their transatlantic circulations, their political resonance, as well as the many responses they have elicited, particularly in the arts.

Announcement

Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, Montpellier, France 16 and 17 May 2024

Argument

Within the context of the Black Lives Matter movements in the United States and the United Kingdom in the 2010s and 2020s, this conference will examine antiracist mobilizations and their historical continuities, their transatlantic circulations, their political resonance, as well as the many responses they have elicited, particularly in the arts.

We welcome papers from a broad disciplinary field, especially from African American studies, history, sociology, geography, political science, philosophy, anthropology, literature, linguistics, music, film, photography, fine arts, media studies (etc.). The focus on English-speaking countries does not exclude comparisons with or reference to other geographical areas.

Historical continuities, geographical circulations

Far from being an isolated movement, Black Lives Matter is part and parcel of the history of African American radicalism. Which temporalities should best define it? Should it be conceptualized in terms of “waves”, like the history of feminism? Or in terms of generations, with the Civil Rights Movement as its reference? In the UK context, how did the Black Lives movement connect with earlier decolonial as well as black liberation struggles?

How, too, is one to conceptualize the global—national, local, continental—variations of the movement: should one think of them as translations, declensions, appropriations, hybridizations? What has been the geographical circulation of BLM’s slogans, tactics and activists?

Space, sites of memory, institutions

Antiracist mobilizations have brought to the fore the power relations that structure public space, both through temporary demonstrations, gatherings and protests and through longer occupations, all of which question and challenge the control exercised by the police over black bodies, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a white policeman kneeling on his neck for nine minutes.

In the US and in the UK the toppling or removing of statues that celebrate slavery (e.g. the statues of Edward Colston in Bristol and of General Lee in Richmond, VA) show that public space is the site of contested memories. Institutional responses have been diverse, due to the antagonisms within the different, national, regional, local, levels of political institutions. Public response has ranged from repression and preemptive action to forms of support and institutionalization.

Building a movement

Have recent environmentalist, feminist (#metoo), anti-capitalist (Occupy), revolutionary (Arab springs) protest movements informed the genesis and the development of the BLM movements? If so, in what ways? Conversely, is BLM changing contemporary protest movements?

The founders of BLM insisted on its intersectionality: how intersectional has BLM been? has the movement contributed to bringing together the struggles against multiple oppressions? This logic of convergence/divergence is also at play between BLM and existing political organizations of the left.

Tensions may exist due to activists seeking different objectives: should BLM seek to topple a racist social order, or lead to reconciliation or/and reparation? What conceptions of justice co-exist within antiracist mobilizations? Should credence be given to the notion of a generational divide between younger protesters organizing and mobilizing primarily on the social networks, and older, more ideologically-minded activists pushing more traditional forms of public protest ? What have been the individual and collective trajectories of the activists and protesters of the movement? What impact has participation in the movement had on their lives, especially with cyberbullying rife on social networks? Have community organizer-like figures played a role in the development of antiracist mobilizations in countries other than the US?

The body and lived experience

The slogan BLM foregrounds the impact of racism and white supremacy on black lives and bodies. The itself requires examination, as do its electronic and non-electronic variations — Black Lives Matter or #BlackLivesMatter? — in antiracist protests and even white supremacists’ violent parodies and negations.

The slogan speaks to a long tradition in African American literature, from the slave narratives and their emphasis on the physical sufferings of black people to the black feminist writings putting to the fore lived experience, speaking in one’s voice, reversing the gaze, and revising history. The decade following 2013 saw a flowering of editorial interventions and essays, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ (Between the World and Me) and Reni Eddo-Lodge’s (Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race). The double articulation of these works as testimony and as political intervention needs to be probed.

Antiracism and artistic production

Finally, recent antiracist mobilizations have been a powerful inspiration for artistic productions that interrogate the legacy of the slave trade, slavery, colonialism, and segregation, in a wide range of fields in the graphic arts, literature, drama, cinema, and music and street art. In powerful echoes between antiracist protest and artistic production, Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” became the hymn of the antiracist protests of Spring 2020, while poetess Claudia Rankine or writer Jesmyn Ward create works that mirror the movement, and graffiti artists honor the dead at the hands of the police in their ephemeral murals.

Submission guidelines

Submissions should be sent to montpellierblmconference@gmail.com 

by September 15th, 2023.

They should include

  • a 500-word abstract and a bibliography
  • a short presentation of the author

The Advisory Board will consider all abstracts received by the published deadline to ensure that the proposed submission is relevant to the conference. The abstracts will be double-blind peer reviewed by members of the Advisory Board. Abstract selection notifications and feedback will be sent out to relevant authors.

Advisory Board

  • Hélène Charlery, Senior Lecturer in American Studies, Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, CAS
  • Claude Chastagner, Professor of American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Elodie Edwards-Grossi, Senior Lecturer in American Studies and Sociology, Université Paris Dauphine, IRISSO
  • Olivier Estèves, Professor of British Studies, Université de Lille, CERAPS
  • Carline Encarnacion, Senior Lecturer in American Literature, Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, CAS
  • Vincent Latour, Professor of British Studies, Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, CAS
  • Hélène Le Dantec-Lowry, Professor of American Studies, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, CREW
  • Monica Michlin, Professor of American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Claudine Raynaud, Professor of African American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Jean-Paul Rocchi, Professor of American Literature and Culture, Université Gustave Eiffel, CFR / LISAA
  • Michaël Roy, Senior Lecturer in American Studies, Université Paris Nanterre, CREA

Organising Committee

  • Lawrence Aje, Senior Lecturer in American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Claude Chastagner, Professor of American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Anne Crémieux, Professor of American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Marianne Drugeon, Senior Lecturer in British Literature, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Manon Lefebvre, Lecturer in American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Marc Lenormand, Senior Lecturer in British Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Hervé Mayer, Senior Lecturer in American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Monica Michlin, Professor of American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Niaz Pernon, Lecturer in British Studies, Ecole nationale supérieure de chimie de Montpellier et docteure en civilisation britannique, EMMA
  • Claudine Raynaud, Professor of African American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA
  • Raphaël Ricaud, Senior Lecturer in American Studies, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA

Places

  • université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier 3, site Saint-Charles, rue du professeur Henri Serre
    Montpellier, France (34000)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Friday, September 15, 2023

Attached files

Keywords

  • Black Lives Matter, arts, racism, politics, USA, Great-Britain, music, literature, cinema

Contact(s)

  • Claude Chastagner
    courriel : claude [dot] chastagner [at] univ-montp3 [dot] fr

Information source

  • Claude Chastagner
    courriel : claude [dot] chastagner [at] univ-montp3 [dot] fr

License

CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Black Lives Matter: Political and artistic mobilization against systemic racism in the US and the UK », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, February 06, 2023, https://doi.org/10.58079/1ahe

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