Book Launch : Pluri-Culture and Migrant Writings/ Pluri-culture et écrits migratoires

The Canada-Mediterranean Centre (CMC) launched Pluri-Culture and Migrant Writings/Pluri-Culture et Écrits migratoires, edited by Professor Elizabeth Sabiston (English) and former Dean of Arts and University Professor Robert J. Drummond (Political Science), at the York University Bookstore, on Wednesday, November 19, 2014. The book constitutes the Proceedings of the International Conference organized by the CMC, and held at York University in May 2012. It is comprised of 33 of the best essays culled from the Conference (560 pp.), and was published by the Human Sciences Monograph Series, Laurentian University, Sudbury (Ali Reguigui, Editor). The Conference and the Proceedings were supported by a generous grant from SSHRC/CRSH. The organizers and editors also acknowledge the help of the Office of the Dean, LA&PS (then-Dean Martin Singer and then-Associate Dean Research Barbara Crow), Stong College, the Departments of French Studies and English.

The collection is bilingual and interdisciplinary, with an Introduction by Elizabeth Sabiston and a Conclusion by Robert Drummond. It focuses on a variety of discourses, both oral and written, in order to address key issues of migration, which has been increasingly problematized in the global village we inhabit. As Professor Drummond notes, it moves beyond the facts and numbers of the social sciences to put a human face on the immigrant experience. It would be a valuable acquisition in any personal, academic, regional, or national library.

International scholars are represented from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon, Sénégal, France, Italy, Spain, China, as well as the United States and Canada.

The book is available at the York University Bookstore ($35): http://www.bookstore.yorku.ca

 Some Critical Comments:

“ . . . a striking work in its richness and diversity . . . a profound and unified scholarly work . . . to be read and reread.” (Rafik Darragi, Université de Tunis, Tunisia)

“The originality of these writings is that they do not restrict themselves to developing the theme of exile, but are engaged in reflections that one could call essential or existential . . . .”

(Denise Brahimi, Sorbonne, Paris)

“ . . . deserves to be read by all government agencies concerned with immigration.”

(Éric Cader, CIUT, Toronto)


International Conference “Pluri-Culture and Migrant Writings: An Interdisciplinary Approach/ Pluri-Culture et Écrits migratoires : Une Approche Interdisciplinaire”

York University, Toronto, May 17-20, 2012

From every point of view, the conference was a resounding success. Organized by the Canada-Mediterranean Centre (CMC), supported by a generous SSHRC grant, and by the Office of the Dean, LAPS (Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies), the Office of the Vice-President Academic, Stong College, the Département d’Études Françaises, and the English Department, the stated objective of the conference was to reflect on a variety of discourses which address migration – national, social, or individual – and the relationship of those discourses to cultural pluralism. The conference was interdisciplinary and bilingual, in the two official languages of Canada.

The conference emphasized the cultural values that each migrant takes with him in emigrating from one country to another, rather than the theme of material advancement. Thus we stressed the analysis of Pluri-Culture, or Cultural Diversity, in all its manifestations, both “high” and popular (mass media, sports), which are related to migration. The objective was to highlight this pluralism in the productions of immigrant writers or creators in texts, documents, cultural artifacts (novels, poems, plays, essays, journals and magazines, newspapers, diaries, biographies and autobiographies, interviews, correspondence, films). The essential element was that they all treat the interaction of the immigrant’s original culture and that of the host country. Papers deal with the comparative contexts (immigration in Europe, in North America), as well as the historical framework (colonialism and its aftermath, the diverse waves of immigration from the 19th to the 21st centuries). We studied ways in which cultural pluralism can mitigate – perhaps eliminate – the so-called “shocks of civilization.” The conference aimed at creating cultural dialogue, a primordial factor in the construction of identity, the relationship between Self and Other, the bridge between similarity and difference.

Participants included both established and younger scholars, from all over the world. The participants came from a variety of countries (Canada, the United States, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Cameroon, Sénégal, France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, China) and fields (literature, languages, linguistics, creative writing, history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, kinesiology, film studies). The multiplicity of viewpoints – existential, social, literary, linguistic, historical, psychological, philosophic, anthropological – led to an understanding of the degree to which the immigrant is able to adapt his/ her intrinsic values in a strange land, and in turn of the extent to which the host country may be enriched by the contributions of the newcomers. We discussed working towards a reciprocity imbued with tolerance to lessen the shocks, hardships, frictions between the original culture of the immigrant, and the new culture to be acquired, and in fact created, by both old inhabitants and new.