The conference Whither Culture? The Stakes and Definitions of Cultural Mobility will take place 29 April-1 May 2010 in Montreal.

Under the supervision of:
Simon Harel, Full Professor, Department of Literary Studies, UQAM
Marie-Christine Lambert-Perreault, Ph.D. candidate in Literary Studies, UQAM

Organizing committee:
Fabienne Claire Caland (Coordinator of Public Activities for Simon Harel’s Trudeau Fellowship Award)
Simon Houle (Sociology)
Jonathan Lamy (Semiology)
Karina Victoria Sieres (Literary Studies)
Collaborator: Jérôme-Olivier Allard (Literary Studies)

Whither culture? In the current context of globalization, the increase of population movements and the development of telecommunication technologies have enhanced mobility. This has given rise to a genuine culture of transit (Hadj-Moussa 2003). The notions of social mobility and mobility as progress stray from mobility as a mythopoetic form implying the energy of flight and the refusal of death (Bachelard 1943). In sociological terms, mobility refers to social stratification and successful itineraries within the fields concerned by social stratification (Bourdieu).

The participants in “Whither Culture? The Stakes and Definitions of Cultural Mobility” will question this ability to move across cultural areas and languages. Cultural mobility is an issue for immigrants, exiles, businesswomen hopping airplanes, professionals forced to comply with transdisciplinarity and the reprobates who have fallen through the cracks of society.

The contemporary forms of cultural mobility can be studied through narrativity. More than the description of a narrated world and the ensuing foregrounding of “contents”, we favour the analysis of discursive patterns. Whether made of words, images or spaces (de Certeau, 1981), narratives are anything but flat and smooth. They are alive with symbols of all kinds. Our approach considers cultural mobility as a means to conceptualize the discursive dynamics of the spaces that we identify, name, read and cross.

The narratives of cultural mobility create euphoric and dysphoric imaginary spaces. Cultural mobility is also about those who have no space of their own, who are ever on the move, not by choice or upward dynamics, but because they have no legitimate place to be. Cultural mobility also prompts us to inquire into migrant places laden with suffering (Kaës, 2005). Some citizens deprived of security, on the margins of society, face the impositions made on their mobility with creative resistance. On the occasion of “Whither Culture?”, we intend to question the frailest forms of mobility, which foster new alternatives and transform into narratives.

This event is intended as a major intellectual and creative happening in which theoretical discussions will alternate with practical activities on the forms and stakes of a highly contemporary phenomenon. Mornings will be dedicated to conceptual work with conferences centered on definitions and prospects, on day-to-day life and tourism, on geolocalized medias and the virtual. Afternoons and evenings will be devoted to varied activities. In addition to conferences (on flash mobs, technology, art and sociability), panels will be held (on mobile writers, public places and creative precariousness). Besides, the participants will have an opportunity to attend an event on molecular cuisine, audio-visual performances (audio walk, Powerstrider) and projections.


APPADURAI, Arjun, « Disjonction et différence dans l’économie culturelle globale », Après le colonialisme. Les conséquences culturelles de la globalisation, trad. par Françoise Bouillot, Paris, Payot & Rivages, 2001, p. 63-90.
BACHELARD, Gaston, L’air et les songes : essai sur l’imagination du mouvement, Paris, José Corti, 1965 [1943].
BECK, Ulrich, Cosmopolitan Vision, Cambridge, Polity, 2006.
BOURDIEU, Pierre, Les règles de l’art, Paris, Seuil, 1992.
CERTEAU, Michel de, L’invention du quotidien, Paris, Gallimard, coll. « Folio / Essais », 1981.
HADJ-MOUSSA, Ratiba, « Diasporas : ethnies sans frontières sans politiques ? », dans Boudreault, Pierre-W. (dir.), Retour de l’utopie : recomposition des espaces et mutations du politique, Québec, Presses de l’Université Laval, 2003, p. 105-120.
KAËS, René et al., Différence culturelle et souffrances de l’identité (nouvelle éd.), Paris, Dunod, 2005.
SIMMEL, Georg, Les pauvres, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, coll. « Quadrige », 1998.