Brest, 23 & 24 NOVEMBER 2017
The international conference “Thinking the sea in a global world: discourses and practices” aims at examining the convergences and the tensions between the representation of the sea in global discourses, whether from the media or from the political, advertising or environmental spheres, and the sea as a space shaped by the everyday practices and the arts of the local populations. Three major areas of research can be identified:
1. How sea discourses are built
Even though the sea may be indifferent to mankind, human beings have always sought to project upon its surface or on its shores their desires and anxieties. Marine debris materialize, to a certain extent, those human projections. As Pierre Cassou-Noguès in Métaphysique d’un bord de mer) argues, “the sea has been humanized […] we leave oil spills and all kinds of waste, bottles, cans, beach balls, etc”. Pollution, like global warming, is a worldwide phenomenon, which may obscure the question of its exact provenance. Contributions are invited to examine how sea imaginaries in various cultures seize those global phenomena and voice or construct their own sea discourses.
• How do aesthetic theories influence the way we look at and conceptualize the sea?
• What concepts, ideas, values shape our aesthetic consumption of the sea?
• How can we analyse cross-cultural phenomena in relation to the sea?
• How is the sea taught in school curriculums and innovative projects? How are the seas and oceans represented in children’s literature or TV series?
• How can “sound practices” in relation to the sea be defined? What is their final objective, and how are they spread? (one may here think about leisure fishing, the protection of coastal systems, sailing, maritime transport, marine protected areas,…)
2. The sea in practice: a consumer resource?
We invite contributions that question the definition of the sea as a source of minerals, fossil fuels, vegetable matter, food, but also of landscapes, services, leisure, tourism, culture and identities. Do all human practices in relation to the sea amount to a form of consumption?
• Can the sea envisaged as a resource accommodate the idea of the sea as a living entity?
• How do advertising, environmental and health discourses influence our consumption of sea products?
• Can we identify normalized and normalizing discourses on the sea? How different are they from one culture to the next?
• Does maritime tourism take the risk of turning sea cultures into commodified simulacra?
3. Conflicts, resistance, creativity
As the space of various forms of both exchanges and conflicts, the sea generates original patterns of social organisation or artistic creation that may lead in turn to new uses and practices. Contributions may identify and analyse these original social and cultural uses of the sea, as well as the instances of one-sided, partisan representations. Contributions may also examine how discourses and representations affect cultural forms related to the sea, whether in the field of sociality or art.
• What discourses, what forms of action are deployed against dominant economies and ideologies?
• How is conflict between users of the sea played out? What are the discourses used by the different parties involved?
• To what extent have the concepts of ‘environment’ and ‘ecosystem’ been recycled, and their meaning altered, by political discourses?
• How is the sea expressed in popular art forms, from sea shanties to leisure painting?
• Are certain practices or users linked to the sea changed into myths, or on the contrary made invisible, in keeping with current dominant visions of the sea?
• How are the practices linked to the sea represented in literature?
• Can the practice of writing or other forms of art reshape a globalized perception of seas and oceans?
• How can the sea help us rethink our understanding of the artistic practice?
Abstracts of no more than 1,500 signs for 20-minute papers in English or in French must contain the following:
• First and last names, contact e-mail.
• Academic affiliation
• Research interests and recent publications
• A provisional title for your paper
Proposals should be sent no later than 15 March 2017 to:, Notification of acceptance will be given around 15 April 2017.
A selection of papers will be published in a collective work.
Scientific Committee:
Dr Yvanne Bouvet (University of Western Brittany, France)
Pr Omer Chouinard (University of Moncton, Canada)
Dr Catherine Conan (University of Western Brittany, France)
Dr Simon Foale (James Cook University, Australia)
Dr Sophie Gondolle (University of Western Brittany, France)
Dr Géraldine Le Roux (University of Western Brittany, France)
Dr Camille Manfredi (University of Western Brittany, France)
Pr Elisabeth Michel-Guillou (University of Western Brittany, France)
Dr Bertrand Le Gallic (University of Western Brittany, France)
Dr Kimberley Page-Jones (University of Western Brittany, France)
Pr Pierrick Pourchasse (University of Western Brittany, France)
Dr Peter Weiss (University of the Westfjords, Iceland)
Dr Yvanne Bouvet
Dr Catherine Conan
Dr Kimberley Page-Jones UBO
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