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Artistic and Literary Perspectives on Peripheries

Perspectives artistiques et littéraires sur les périphéries

Strategies of Subversion and Emancipation of Peripheries and Margins in Opposition to Centers

Stratégies de subversion et d’émancipation des périphéries et des marges face aux centres

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Published on Monday, March 21, 2022


This conference aims to revisit the epistemological debates on the notional couple center / periphery by questioning the capacities of action of literary and artistic peripheries and margins. A particular interest will be shown towards the strategies of autonomization and subversion employed by peripheries in order to reverse the circulation of cultural objects and the representations produced both by the centers and themselves. A sociological approach to arts and literature will be encouraged in this conference, yet without abandoning the aesthetic and formal stakes of the works.


Thursday, June 2 from 9:30 am to 6 pm, at the Maison de la Recherche - Sorbonne University

28 Rue Serpente, 75006 Paris


This conference is organized by REIGENN, UMR 8224 Eur'ORBEM (Sorbonne University), LEGS (University of Paris 8 Vincennes - Saint-Denis) and Initiative Théâtre (Alliance Sorbonne University).

It originates in a doctoral seminar organized by the junior research teams of the Italian (ERjilS, ELCI), Germanic and Nordic (Élans, REIGENN) and Slavic (Passage, UMR 8224 Eur’ORBEM) Studies of the ED 020 of the Faculty of Letters of Sorbonne University.


Throughout the twentieth century, under the influence of Marxism, many social science disciplines such as economics, geography and sociology have seized upon the notion of center/periphery in order to theorize different types of power dynamics. If the center constitutes a place - geographical or symbolic - of production of legitimate knowledge and culture (Bourdieu, 1979) and, consequently, of the norm, the periphery is perceived as a space dependent on and influenced by the center. Thus, objects and persons of the periphery are often under-represented, discriminated against and even made invisible by the center. In this perspective, the notion of "periphery" can then be brought closer to that of "margins" (hooks, 1984), a notion strongly mobilized in feminist, queer, postcolonial, disability and generally subaltern studies. However, literary and artistic fields do not escape such relations of domination, quite the contrary: these dynamics of power impact both the circulation and recognition of works in literary and artistic fields as well as aesthetic issues and questions of representation of the self and the Other.

This center/periphery binary has since been challenged: it is clear that transnational (Seyhan, 2001) and transcultural (Mitterbauer & Smith-Prei, 2017) histories shed light on the mobilities of centers and peripheries as well as the capacities for action and networking (Scott, 2013) between peripheral spaces at regional, national, and global levels. Within this perspective, notions of "interconnectivity", "rhizomes" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980), "relation" and "intervalorisation" enabled by creolization (Glissant, 1996) have emerged.

This conference aims to revisit the epistemological debates on the notional couple center/periphery by questioning the capacities of action of literary and artistic  (cinema, comics, performing arts, plastic arts, music) peripheries and margins. A particular interest will be shown towards the strategies of autonomization and subversion (Casanova, 1999) employed by peripheries in order to reverse the circulation of cultural objects and the representations produced both by the centers and themselves. By autonomization, we suggest a form of detachment from the norms of the center - for example in literature, the abandonment of a colonizing language (Wa Thiong'o, 2010) or the hybridization of narrative (Nelson, 2015). However, some peripheries choose not to ignore centers and their norms, but to theorize and/or represent them instead; by subverting or even reversing the relationship of domination, centers can thus also become the object of the production of knowledge by peripheries. Aware of the power dynamics that bind them to the centers, the peripheries then benefit from an "epistemic privilege" (Hartsock, 1997). In cinema, one thinks for example of the female gaze (Brey, 2020), which does not constitute a simple counterpart of the male gaze (Mulvey, 1975) but a conscious subversion of the latter. A sociological approach to arts and literature will thus be encouraged in this conference, yet without abandoning the aesthetic and formal stakes of the works. On the contrary, we will appreciate approaches that address both the aesthetic and political issues of the relationship between centers and peripheries in arts and literature.

We therefore encourage proposals for contributions to be made along different lines of reflection and questioning:

  • What issues are raised by representation and self-representation from peripheries? How does the question of “epistemic privilege” play out in artistic and literary fields?
  • Which linguistic strategies are employed by artistic and literary peripheries? What benefits and limitations of translation and self-translation practices can we uncover?
  • What are the links between the movement of artists between peripheries and centers (e.g., through exile) and the literary and artistic strategies utilized to subvert, appropriate or emancipate themselves from the norms of the center?
  • How can networking between different peripheries constitute a form of empowerment in relation to the center?
  • Which strategies may be implemented by artistic and literary margins and peripheries in order to ensure the circulation of their works in relation to the center and find “doors of entry” (Paz 1972)? Can these strategies be considered truly emancipatory? What are their limits?
  • With the intention of bridging the notions of periphery and margin, we strongly encourage proposals that address issues of gender, sexuality, class, race, and disability, as well as any intersection of these issues. Proposals that address human/non-human connections and zoopoetics are also welcome.
  • Finally, we aspire to reflect on how the relationship between peripheries/margins and centers informs our academia and hope to subvert some of the observations posited by Zekri (2017). Proposals that focus on the strategies developed by “subaltern” researchers (Spivak, 1988) or associative and activist organizations to elaborate and disseminate autonomous methodological, theoretical and epistemological tools are therefore encouraged, as well as those that focus more globally on the strategies of appropriation of concepts from the center, deployed by the margins and peripheries. Could these re-appropriations ever, or even just occasionally, deprive the center of its tools?

Submission guidelines

Proposals for contributions (in French or English, 500 words maximum, with a brief bio-bibliographical presentation) should be sent before April 15, 2022 to laura.maver@yahoo.fr, and lola-sinoimeri@riseup.net. An answer will be given to all prospective candidates by April 30 at the latest.

This conference is open to master's students, doctoral students and young researchers.

Transportation and accommodation of participants may be covered by the budget of the conference in part or in full, if financial conditions allow it.

Organisation committee

  • Virginie Adam, Sorbonne University (REIGENN)
  • Naïma Berkane, Sorbonne University (Eur'ORBEM)
  • Nicola Brarda, Sorbonne University (ELCI)
  • Aida Čopra, Sorbonne University (ELCI)
  • Astrid Greve-Kristensen, Sorbonne University (Eur'ORBEM)
  • Joseph Kebe-Nguema, Sorbonne University (REIGENN)
  • Laura Maver Borges, Sorbonne University (ELCI)
  • Iris Saada, Sorbonne University (Eur'ORBEM)
  • Lola Sinoimeri, University Paris 8 Vincennes - Saint-Denis (LEGS), Sorbonne University (Eur'ORBEM)

Scientific Committee

  • Agathe Mareuge, Associate Professor, Sorbonne University (REIGENN)
  • Silvia de Min, Sorbonne University (ELCI)
  • Gaïa Perreaut, Sorbonne University (REIGENN)
  • Małgorzata Smorąg-Goldberg, Professor, Sorbonne University (Eur’ORBEM)
  • Valentina Sturli, University of Padoue (Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies)
  • Maria Turgieva, Sorbonne University (Eur’ORBEM)


BOURDIEU Pierre, La Distinction : Critique sociale du jugement [Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, 1984], Paris, Éditions de Minuit, 1979.

BRAIDOTTI Rosi,« Les sujets nomades féministes comme figure des multitudes » ["Feminist nomadic subjects as figures of the multitudes"], Multitudes, Vol.12, No.2, 2003, p.27-38.

BREY Iris, Le Regard féminin : une révolution à l’écran [The Female Gaze: A Revolution On-Screen], Paris, Éditions de l’Olivier, 2020.

CASANOVA Pascale, La République mondiale des lettres [The World Republic of Letters, 2004], Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 2009.

DELEUZE Gilles, GUATTARI Félix, Capitalisme et schizophrénie, tome 2 : Mille plateaux, [A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, 1987], Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1980.

GLISSANT Edouard, Introduction à une poétique du divers, [Introduction to a Poetics of Diversity, 2020] Paris, Gallimard, 1996.

HARSTOCK Nancy C. M., “Rethinking Modernism: Minority vs. Majority Theories”, Cultural Critique, No. 7, 1987.

HOOKS bell, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, Boston, South End Press, 1984.

MITTERBAUER Helga, SMITH-PREI Carrie (eds.), Crossing Central Europe: Continuities and Transformations, 1900 and 2000, Toronto, Buffalo, Londres, University of Toronto Press, 2017.

MULVEY Laura, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Screen, Vol. 16, No. 3, 1975.

NELSON Maggie, The Argonauts, Minneapolis, Graywolf Press, 2015.

PAZ Octavio, Le Labyrinthe de la solitude, suivi de Critique de la pyramide, [The Labyrinth of Solitude,  Paris, Gallimard, 1972.

SCOTT James C., Zomia, ou l’art de ne pas être gouverné, [The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, 2009], Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 2013.

SEYHAN Azade, Writing Outside the Nation, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2001.

SPIVAK Gayatri Chakravorty, “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, in NELSON Cary, GROSSBERG Lawrence (eds.), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1988, p. 271-313.

WA THIONG’O Ngugi, Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, London, James Currey ; Nairobi, Heinemann Kenya ; Portsmouth, N. H., Heinemann ; Harare, Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1986.

ZEKRI Caroline, «La fabrique des identités migratoires : de l’usage du culturel comme outil de dépolitisation des migrations» [“The Construct of Migratory Identities: the Use of Culture as a Tool for Depoliticizing Migration”], Scritture Migranti. Rivista di scambi interculturali, No 11, 2017, p. 103-117.


  • Maison de la recherche - 28 rue Serpente
    Paris, France (75)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Friday, April 15, 2022


  • périphérie, marge, stratégie, subversion, émancipation


  • Virginie Adam
    courriel : virginieadam [at] ymail [dot] com

Information source

  • Virginie Adam
    courriel : virginieadam [at] ymail [dot] com


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

To cite this announcement

« Artistic and Literary Perspectives on Peripheries », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, March 21, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/18ij

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