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Schoelcher, Martinique, French West-Indies
Organization: Université des Antilles / University of the French West-Indies
Event: International Festival of Zouk
Categories: Digital Humanities, Comparative, Interdisciplinary, Popular Culture, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy
Event Date: 2019-06-19 to 2019-06-20 Abstract Due: 2019-05-30 Abstract Deadline has passed


Zouk stands out as the complex and intricate artistic creation of Guadeloupe and Martinique, two sister islands that have conjointly gone through irreparable convulsions, collective devastation and a lengthy reconstruction of their identities during French colonial history.

Its apparition in our region coincides with the unexpected birth of the band Kassav in 1979, in a context of national and international emptiness (largely influenced by postmodernism) which was nonetheless combined with American influences (Black Power, the Harlem Renaissance, blues, jazz, funk, disco, pop, fusion, boogaloo …) and Caribbean influences (kompa, salsa, reggae, calypso, merengue, rumba, cumbia, son montuno, bomba, plena, etc).

This occurrence leads us to understand the artistic approach of Kassav which consists in regenerating the insular unity of a ‘Sea People’ – as Antonio Benitez Rojo would call it – amidst the great archipelagic diversity that defines and unites us. This process amounts to looking for a homogenization in the cultural heterogeneity of our respective peoples that are so enmeshed in confusion, the illusions of mimicry assimilation, acculturation, transculturation and the like.

These dynamics are at the very heart of Kassav’s commitment. They consist in re-spiritualizing, re-sacralising or re-sanctuarizing our collective experience with the full recognition of our fertile roots thanks to our sonorities, our beats and rhythms, our Creole tongue, our subterraneous language, our essential cosmogonic universe, our beliefs and aspirations which constitute the hearth of our idiosyncrasy, and coalesce into our unique, intricate and boisterous identity.

This pilgrimage of resistance, which Kassav has painfully conducted over 40 years in a mongrel and composite land, reveals the stakes of a long-desired awareness for our nations where self-denial is still an existential praxis and a strategy of functional survival.

Why, therefore, is there this love-hate attitude toward Zouk in our countries, while the music is welcomed in an unbiased manner elsewhere in the world? Could the-creolization of Zouk or re-appropriation of the Creole imagination by Kassav augur an avant-garde posture of resistance, a postulate, a founding principle allowing a system of thought to emancipate the peoples of Guadeloupe and Martinique from their complexes in the long run? Given that Zouk has the upper hand in the French sphere in terms of sales, certifications, awards an international visibility, could we not envisage it as a driving force for the cultural and touristic economy of the islands? Could it pave the way for the apparition of a synergy within a network encompassing the exploitation, production and distribution of its output (broadcasting, media, the Internet, professions linked to the living arts, communication and information …)?

What kind of impact has been or is likely to proceed from the influence of Zouk on the Caribbean and the Americas in such fields as literature, arts, lifestyles, social organization, communication modes, awareness, collective representations and imaginations? Has Zouk transformed our Creole societies, our “southern societies” in cultural, political and social respects? What about the impact of Zouk on international productions?

The fields of research suggested by this call for papers include but are not limited to:

-          musicology

-          ethnomusicology

-          diasporic and migrant culture

-          economics

-          law

-          humanities: sociology/anthropology

-          linguistics and Creole studies

-          art

-          political science

-          history

-          geopolitics

-          philosophy

-          Cultural Studies

-          psychology

-          psychoanalysis

-          empirical reflection (interviews …)

-        Media Studies.

Various approaches deserve consideration for reflection and debate, mainly on Kassav, the band that promoted a Caribbean Creole consciousness. The following is a non-exhaustive list of topics which might be taken as the starting-point of further analysis:

·         Kassav’s thought and the construction of a Zouk aesthetics (the issue of root and identity; the central role of drums, carnivalization…)

·         Kassav : a poetics of negritude and creolization, an aesthetics of marooning

·         The reception of Kassav in Guadeloupe, Martinique, France, the US, in Africa, Japan, Europe (clubbing culture on a local, national or international level).

·         The relationship with dance and its local, national or international evolution

·         Kassav and Africa (the sacral dimension, return to roots …)

·         Kassav: an ambassador of the Pan-American and Pan-African diasporas

·         The worldwide influence of the Zouk clave

·         Comparative studies on Zouk in a local, national or international context

·         The perspectives of Zouk : how can this musical asset be developed in a local and global context (quality aspects).


Keywords: identity, ideology, representation, imagination, religion and magic, reality, negritude, Creole-ness, creolization, syncretism, ontology, ontic.


Submissions should take the form of a 300-word abstract including 4-6 keywords and a brief bio-bibliographic note specifying your institutional affiliation or function in relation to this international symposium. Presentations may be addressed as a 20-minute academic paper or experience-based talk that will be followed by a 15-minute debate.

Please send your proposals to Dr Frédéric Lefrançois Frederic.Lefrancois.UA@gmail.com and Gérald Désert GDesert972@gmail.com by May 30th 2019.

Deadline for proposals: May 30th, 2019

Response of the Scientific Committee: June 5th, 2019


Organanizational Committee:

Rosselyne ASTASIE, President of Lynnaj Art Event

Malissa CONSEIL, Université des Antilles

Gérald DESERT, Université des Antilles

Frédéric LEFRANÇOIS, Université des Antilles

Jean-Marc ROSIER, President of Mélanges Caraïbes Association


Scientific Committee:

Corinne MENCE-CASTER, Professor, Paris IV-Sorbonne

Catherine LAVENIR, Professor, Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle

Hidehiro TACHIBANA, Professor, Waseda University, Japan

Raphaël CONFIANT, Professor, Université des Antilles

Victorien LAVOU, Professor, Université de Perpignan

Miho WATANABE, Associate Professor, Waseda University, Japan

Gerry L’ETANG, Associate Professor, Université des Antilles

Buata MALELA, Associate Professor, Centre universitaire de Mayotte

Steeve GADET, Associate Professor, Université des Antilles

Cheikh NGUIRANE, Associate Professor, Université des Antilles

Stéphane PARTEL, Associate Professor, Université des Antilles

Anne-Catherine BERRY, Doctor in Art Studies, Université des Antilles

Frédéric LEFRANÇOIS, Doctor in English Studies, Université des Antilles

André LUCRECE, Doctor in Sociology

Abel LOUIS, Doctor in History

Dominique CYRILLE, Doctor in ethno-musicology