CfP: Refugee Literature Workshop GIS-MOMM Bi-Annual Conference (4-6 July 2017)

Refugee Literature Workshop

GIS-MOMM Bi-Annual Conference

4-6 July 2017

Dear colleagues,


I would like to invite you to participate to the workshop I am putting together on refugee literature for the next GIS bi-annual conference, taking place in Paris in July 2017.


Before I explain the objectives of the workshop, let me introduce you first very briefly to the CNRS Scientific Interest Group (Groupement d’Intérêt Scientifique, GIS) on the Middle East and the Muslim World (Moyen-Orient et Mondes musulmans, MOMM).


GIS-MOMM was created in 2013 as a network that brings together research teams working on this area, regardless of their discipline (history, geography, political science, sociology, anthropology, history of art, literature, Islamology, philosophy). Working against a detrimental compartmentalization of knowledge, one of its aims is to encourage interdisciplinary research.


GIS- MOMM also aims to deconstruct divisions and subdivisions between the Maghreb and the Middle East, and between the Arab, Turkish and Iranian worlds that were inherited from the colonial and post-colonial periods. It covers the Muslim world which, with its shared history and culture, spreads from its heartland in the Middle East westwards to Morocco and eastwards through Central Asia to India and South-East Asia.


If you want to know more about GIS – MOMM, please do have a look on our website <>


I would like to organize a workshop on refugee literature, with the current refugee crisis affecting large parts of the Middle East and the Mediterranean world today in mind. Indeed, the crisis has given new prominence to refugee literature written by Arab writers in Arabic, English, French, and other European languages. It is interesting to see how, in the UK for instance, bookshops now have their stalls of refugee literature books which you probably would not have found a couple of years ago and how they put side by side writers from South Asia, the Middle East, Africa …


This workshop aims to question the role/value of using the term “refugee literature” as it relates to question of nationalism and neo-imperialism, but also as it may reshape national literatures by presenting refugee writers as the new scribes of societies which otherwise set them apart in quarantined zones.


Related to this first point, it aims to interrogate the validity of the category of “refugee literature” not only because it homogenizes vastly disparate experiences but also because it is established on the premise of a binary opposition with an altogether dubious concept of “national literature.” What does this sub-category reveal about position of refugee literature in relation with national canons and the idea of the nation? By using the category, are we, as scholars and critics, reproducing an asymmetrical power relation that ultimately reproduces the confinement of these writers to a sub- or minor genre?


It seems that as scholars working in Humanities departments, our role is also to excavate what falls out of official reports and other forms of sanctioned literature. This is the reason why this workshop would like to attract papers with a special focus on non-written forms of cultural productions, such as oral literature, and papers from other disciplines than literary studies, so as to reflect on the conditions of production, collection, and transmission of refugee experience in the camps and the role/commitment of translators in the West and beyond.


Because the GIS-MOMM offers the opportunity to expand our perspectives from the Middle East and to look westward to the Maghreb and Europe, and eastward to Iran, Pakistan, India … the workshop also invites papers interested in the comparison between the various uses of the term refugee by writers and the status of refugee literature in various countries. Why would a writer prefer to resort to the elitist category of “exile” rather than call her/himself a “refugee writer”? How does refugee literature reconnect with Shahrazad’s paradigmatic interpretation of literature as refuge?


This is a lot to cover but we can organize a full-day workshop if we get to ten participants (see below my note with further practical details for submission).


Kindest regards,

Claire Gallien

Lecturer English Department, UPVM.



I have to submit the workshop programme by beginning of June so I would like to put 31 May 2016 as deadline for proposals. Very short abstract and biography are enough as this stage. If the workshop is accepted I shall ask you for a final version of your abstracts to be sent to the conference organisers at a later stage.


Please send all proposals to:



The conference takes place 4-6 July 2017 (dates to be confirmed) in Paris (Inalco University, 65 rue des Grands Moulins Paris 13e).


Papers are given in English and French.


Travel and accommodation expenses are not covered by the organisers of the GIS conference. However, there is the possibility to apply for a grant for citizens of countries belonging to the AUF list in the Maghreb and the Middle East.


Conference fees :

–       free for doctoral students

–       20€ for postdoctoral fellows and academics



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