Aimé Césaire : Cahier dun retour au pays natal (Classiques francophones) (French Edition)

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Whether such a history could have been directly born out of the diffuse mass of African prisoners we signify as slaves today is irrelevant when we consider that it is to their descendants, magnetized by geographies of hardship, for whom this history can function as such in the present.

La littérature francophone, sa diffusion, son enseignement

Goaded by this distress, the poem will become the paradigmatic vehicle for a salutary return of the repressed. Thus, we argue, the linear progress proper to the printed page lives in symbiosis with the haunted grounds of an unpredictable time , the time in which this resurrection must take place. The notion of an unpredictable time naturally creates some difficulties, and we will approach it in the form of what we consider one of the main problems of Caribbean historiography: the drowned event.

Taking our cue from the end of the poem, we re-begin our reading there with an. Most would and have answered that because the passage is to be read as an allegory, perhaps as an omen of the liberation movements that swept the colonized world following the s, therefore the fate of these freedom fighters is the fait accompli of the post-colonial state. Another, the Hollywood answer, would foreclose the question and allow the revolted slaves to share the fate of Sengbe Pieh and the Mende aboard the Amistad without further complications. All three of these answers misinterpret the question.

When we approach our question through this filter, the rebellion at sea must be answered dually, as it is here.

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On the other hand, the anachronism of the answer by the passerby gives us further pause. The dilemma aspires to paradox, as the passerby revives a history which has not taken place in the timeframe of the story, which has taken place in the time of the retelling.

In short, if the revolt at sea failed, the rebels drowned, if it succeeded their victory was drowned by History. Once we put on our Spinoza hats and direct our question solely to the text , we find our poem tells a strange tale indeed. Nonetheless, the ship will not share fates with Noah and his bestiary.

Cahier Hungry and free, he longs there to fish out the maleficent tongue of the night, in order perhaps to enable the dark speech kept in that obscure, unmovable last nonce of return: verrition. Of all the meanings attributed to this golem word, [8] I find solace in a sort of lowest common denominator: a sort of turn-about, eddying motion. The most credible reference has been offered by R.

This round motion of the tongue, meant to scoop out debris, vividly evokes the post-pandrial animal at the moment when the last crumbs lose their grip, leaving nothing unswallowed. In its sweep, the tongue also suggests a bend, or retour if you will. And through to the other side, where to? We remain immobile, a bit shaken, without answers we search for a dark and powerful speech, and thus right at the exit door we are engulfed anew by the poem, by the pays natal , to solve the mystery of our new found freedom.

Yet either translation of the name holds equal truth: a land of ghosts it is, this marvellous Martinique! Many have pointed to the many voyages, subjective and geographical, mapped by the poem, but as far as I can tell, no attention has been paid to the fact that for most of the trajectory we seem to haunt a peculiar space, the holds and decks of a ghost ship, both before and after the prisoner insurrection. The hermeneutical elephant in the room comes perhaps as a consequence of the privileging of the text. While our spectral reading can be easily sustained throughout the text, the additions made to the poem after the poet returned to Martinique dilute the erstwhile overdetermined slave ship.

So how do we spot the ghost ship outside the direct references to the Middle Passage? First of all, we look to the obvious place: the extensive maritime references in use throughout the poem. The extensive list of nautical references in the poem does not allow us to perform a detailed study of each occurrence; therefore we leave it to the reader to make herself attuned to them. Since the rattle of the dead ascends beyond such references, we will devote ourselves to more elusive, but ultimately more defining forms of ghosting the text.

Starting with the opening lines of the text, [9]. If we take the flowers of blood in their botanical sense, we are probably talking about the flamboyant tree, or Delonix regia , and the useless wind only makes sense if we agree these fallen flowers serve no purpose detached from their branches.

If we take them emblematically, we have several options: In one of his excellent annotations of the text, Abiola Irele points us to the fleurs de lys branded as logo on the bloody backs of slaves, and thus serve as the inescapable mark of the colonial encounter Here the wind would be useless because the memory of the encounter fails to cohere. Both of these interpretations are adequate, but still leave the words strangely out of place.

In our sounding for the ghost ship, the uselessness of the wind takes an eerie turn when we consider our unlikely sailors may not know what to do with it. Detached from their home, these fallen petals drift powerless with the wind. Moreover, were the ship commandeered in the Middle Passage, one of its fates would be the doldrums, some miles south of the route commonly followed by the slavers, where the wind becomes truly useless, regardless of seamanship.

What a strange use of metaphor, perfectly out of place, uncanny even. Where does this hunger that cannot reach the topmasts of a sailing ship come from? In our reading: From inadequate and famished landsmen who fail to climb the rigging of the slaver. These unexpected intrusions from the sea possess and alter the material world around them, and sound a jarring note to alert us to their presence. Using our first two stanzas, the reader will notice that I highlighted all the language which would carry with it the story of our ghost ship.

But the Antilles are not the only space reclaimed by the drenching specter of the slave ship. If we pay careful attention we will notice that, a the poem is filling up with water, and b all dramatic encounters take place in phantasmal quarters. By dramatic encounters, we mean those memorable moments where the presence of the Poet or his imago is made manifest through a dramatic tableau.

Here is the description of the first childhood home, where the poetic-I makes his first direct appearance,. The effect is unmistakable, the frail shack, with its tin sails undulating under the sun provides a transitory vehicle for the ghost ship, at all moments under threat of being engulfed by the furies.

In the same way, anytime we find ourselves in the other enclosed spaces of the poem, we must take care to notice the cramped conditions of the slave-hold or its turbulent motions. Just as befell the insurgents, slowly but surely, the text drowns. This prophetic stanza, which we cannot fully explain with mere reference to the eruption of Mt. In other words, all except seabirds [12] will be drowned in water.

One fact remains, regardless of our choice, the prophecy burrows itself to the heart of the stanza, hinting through its typographical maneuvering its provision of centrality: All will be covered by water.

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We find two main processes in the poem by which all will be covered by water: a by being engulfed; and b by deliquescence. Not surprisingly, both of these processes mirror the historiographic dilemmas we introduced above: a A History that threatens to swallow the event whole, and b The assimilation from within into this History. The poem overdetermines both processes, as we shall shortly see. The first kind of drowning we found already in the tenuous trajectory of the vessels and rickety thatches, starting with the Antilles as archi-vessel, licked by a sea that bites like a dog.

In brief, throughout the holds of the poem we hear the ominous insistence of the rain outside the chanting church, confabulating with the knells,. In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword, Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea. Before the Poet ships off to Europe on the reverse leg of the Middle Passage, he provides us with perhaps the strongest reaffirmation of death by water,.

These stanzas hardly need elucidation in light of our discussion thus far, but it helps to add a few important remarks. Notice, first of all, how it allows for a quick recapitulation of some main points: The island which is a vessel cf. More importantly, the location of this stanza within the poem offers us an opportunity in our reading to demonstrate yet another of the ways in which traditional chronology does not sit comfortably in the poem.

If the cosmos of the poem were to be engulfed in water, as foretold in the fourth stanza, we expect a gradual process culminating in the presumed oceanic gulp at the end of the poem, such that in stanza 28, just quoted, the prophesy is not yet fulfilled, even as the sea makes further inroads on the island. This is prophecy that works teleologically, with the assumption that the poem describes a gradual unfolding leading to the final coming to be. In contrast to our teleological expectations, before the Poet departs on his journey to Europe, we find a few stanzas where all is already covered in water, where all is water already.

Notice, for example, the description of death-in-life four stanzas right before stanza 28,. In other words, prophecy has come to pass already, even as it remains unfulfilled. This casts a peculiar light on the role of prophecy in the poem. As opposed to the kind of text in which the end fulfills the promise of the beginning, such as maritime epics like the Odyssey or the Ennead, in which there is a true sense of an ending prefigured through prophecy, the Cahier proposes a notion of vatic time that remains unpredictable because it has and will not have fulfilled its promise.

Our analysis may strike the reader as anti- metaphysical reverie, but this understanding of prophecy will become central when we try to rearticulate, in no-nonsense terms, the problem of freedom. To be precise, freedom as phenomena remains a second coming for the Caribbean population described in the poem.

In other words, the present of the poem lives in a post-emancipatory time, but without a living memory of the already effected opening unto freedom, a lack exacerbated by the misdirecting memory of endowed freedom provided by History, it remains trapped in pre-emancipatory time. In this sense above all, the decayed material present illuminated by the poem becomes the locus for the spectral event of freedom, which has already taken place as the drowned history of rebellion. Anybody wholly or partially immersed in a fluid experiences an up thrust equal to, but opposite in sense to, the weight of the fluid displaced.

Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. The poem, as we have seen, disables the effects of the dark prophecy, in a sense condemning it to remain prophecy or threat. Conscious of our ambiguous place within this unpredictable time, pre-apocalyptic? Our close reading of these passages confirms that within the poem the material becomes the site of possession by the echo of the drowned. As a corollary, the inelegant material body becomes the site or entry point wherein we can reclaim the phantasmal. By inscribing history unto the material condition of the people through metaphor, the poem in effect provides us with the sense that the true history of men and women cannot be permanently deleted, making the machinations of the Archive less traumatic.

The transubstantiation of the drowned historical unto the material finally allows us to respond to the problem of collective amnesia. The poem presents the situation in two guises: a the absence of an adequate , or proper archive of the people; and b the consequent apathy of the disengaged multitude to the problem of history. Though put on display by several stanzas, both of these dilemmas are condensed in the powerful scene at the beginning of the poem where the hungry-for-else schoolboy fails to learn the alienating lesson,.

The hunger of the boy drowns as the free-slaver drowns, its voice forgotten for now along the muddy seabed. A hunger which took place, and a drowning which takes place, conspire together through the phantasmal.


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The artificial part of poetry, perhaps we shall be right to say all artifice, reduces itself to the principle of parallelism. The structure of poetry is that of continuous parallelism, ranging from the technical so-called Parallelism of Hebrew poetry and the antiphons of Church music to the intricacy of Greek or Italian or English verse. Like a Mondrian, the Cahier positions the vertical and the horizontal at odds with each other.

Horizontality where we find it in the poem usually refers to proneness and stasis. The most prominent surfaces in the poem are the sea, the land and the human skin. Verticality will pierce and deform them, as you can verify. Far from having overridingconcerns with social ostricizationor the political and economic injusticesof Frenchimperialism,the negritudeauthors focused on cultureand Frenchrepresentationsof blacks.

Theirchallenge was to view the negre againsta white backgroundwith clear ideas as to what negre meant and to reconcile the meaning of this term with the knowledge that it referredto them. Why Paris? Why then? Why assimilatedblack men, not their Pan-African brothers, nor the originaires of the Communes?

Cesaire's shock points to a simple answer which resides in the micro-socialevent of his awakening. He was a black man, viewing a black man, in the context and presenceof whites. Thus, most likely, for Cesaire, the shock was not so much in seeing himself as the racistbut as the negre. Senghor,however, most likely had not internalizedracistattitudesto the extent that Cesaire had; yet he was assimilatedenough to understandhow they were subtly communicatedthrough in French literature-therefore he understoodCesaire's dilemma.

While Cesaire'suniquereadingof this informationis beyond the ability of sociology to explain, what can be ad- dressed are the social conditions that made his original readingof this situa- tion possible, as well as the possibility that it might, and did, resonatewith a wider audience. Just as ethnicity theory maintainsthat the emergence of a social category or ethnic identity depends on its opposition to other such categories see Barth ; and Horowitz , the emergenceof negritudeoccurredwhere assimilatedblacks could observe a critical mass2' of blacks in the midst of a white majority.

This did not occur until afterWorldWarI and was, ironically, the result of two currentsof assimilation:the originaires'successful fight for citizenship and the promotionof Africansthroughan expandedFrencheduca- tion system in Africa. Prior to this time several blacks had venturedto Paris but not in sufficient numbers to render the event of Cesaire's awakening emblematic. While I am far from arguing that the specifics of Cesaire's awakeningcan be generalizedin every detail to the categoryhe helpeddefine, the presence of blacks as a minoritypresentedthe possibility of their being objectified, reified as an other, which, unlike more celebratedothers see Said , did not lead to the definition of self by referenceto anothergroup but to the recognition of difference articulatedthrougha discourse on self as an exotic other.

And contraryto Gellner's assertion that educationpro- vides the path for the ideological merging of social categories towardsone nationalism , in this case education was the avenue into cultural recesses where holding French values and being black were incommensurable. The meanings of social difference, cultural expression, and politics are implied in any articulationof a nationalism. However, underdifferentcondi- tions, expressions of a nationalism might highlight one or more of these aspects. Blaise Diagne's nationalistprogramwas intendedto ensure that the originaires'commitmentto empire was matchedby their legislated rights as French citizens.

The original groups in Paris before negritude verged on articulatinga nationalistprogramof political separationfrom Francebut as these groups became more political, they faced increased official French opposition and suppression. Moreover, more than the political dilemma, questions of cultural expression seemed to have resonated most with the Parisianblacks. While Cesaire's poetry employed imagerywhich intimatesa 21 What exactly constitutes a critical mass is difficult to determine.

The number which stayed on, or came to France after the war, is more difficult to ascertain. Liauzu presentsthe highly provisionalfigures of 2, for and 1, for blacks in France, not including an indeterminatenumberof migrantsfrom the French Antilles, and the United States. The black intellectuals, however, were in close contact with each other and Vaillant documents the efforts made by Senghor to form a group of the Africans and Martiniquansbased on racial difference from the French.

Likewise, Senghor, who ended up articulatinga nationalismas the French Empire crumbledaround him, althoughpositing the opposed categories of Frenchand African, never probed the political and economic relations between these categories see Senghor While Fanon'sworks are the directdescendantsof the negritudemovement, Fanondistinguishedhis position from thatof his prede- cessors.

His experiences in MartiniqueduringWorldWarII and in a psychi- atric hospital in revolutionaryAlgeria forced him to rethinkthe implicit theo- ries of consciousness developed by Senghor and Cesaire. The negritude authorsimplied that consciousness was the productof racial difference. Fan- on, on the other hand, concludedthatmany of the psychologicalproblemshe treated of both the colonized and colonizer were the productof the domina- tion implicit in the colonial situation.

Throughreflectionon these cases Fanon moved the explanationof consciousness from "racial essence" to political economy, and in doing so the categoryof identificationshifted andexpanded from blacks to the colonized, regardlessof their race. Fanon did not restricthis discussion to those with psychological problems but instead attemptedto explain the ideologies of his predecessors, such as Diagne, Senghor, and Cesaire, by constructingan evolutionarymodel which led the ideologies of the colonized through the stages of assimilation, negritude,finally arriving,in much the same way a dog chases its own tail, at his own explanatorymodel.

He encouragedthe elites includingSenghorand Cesaire to shift their perspectiveand thus place their works and those of the assimilationistsin his evolutionarysequence in which the lineage of ideolo- gies of the colonized develops neatly and inevitablyto Fanon'scategoryof the colonized. Fanon's agenda was more political than academic. He strove to reconcile the assumedpeasants'rage with the elites' ideologies. Fanonwas a nationalist who saw violence as the path to the emergence of the new nations of the colonized.

By understandingtheir universal condition as the colonized, the elites could develop culturalmodels and, for Fanon, culture was first and foremost a nationalisticphenomena to channel the peasants' rage.


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On the 22 Senghor,throughhis works on AfricanSocialism, neverprobedthe relationsbetween these categories except to the extent thathe addressedfuturepolitical relationsbetween Franceand her former colonies. Given these historical facts, can we assume that Fanon's notion of the colonized was implicit in n6gritudeand the work of the black assimilationists? Although many argumentshave been made againstthe particularsof Fanon's model, this notion of the colonized as defined by political economy does lurk as a tacit assumptionin many studies of colonization in much the same way as some Marxists assume a class consciousness.

From this perspective, even if local populationsdo not articulatesuch a consciousness, the political economy of their relationswith the colonizer imply that such a consciousness is somewhere presentand somehow expressed, even if it is not articulated. It is even said of Fanon as he implies of Diagne and Cesaire ,in the time before he developed his ideas, that "of course he would eventually understandthe truthof his situation" cf. Anonymous ; LaGuerre Yet I hope this essay suggests that through comparisonof differentperiods in the develop- ment of this thought, the category of the colonized as conceived by Fanon cannot be taken for granted.

Diagne, Senghor, and Cesaire did not share Fanon'scategory of the colonized, and it is only throughthe impactof Fanon, and perhaps through a different imperialismconducted particularlyby the British that a searchfor evidence of this thinkingin these writerstakes place. Even if the emergence of Fanon's "colonized" was inevitable, the conditions of this emergence remain to be explained through a sensitive historical analysis.

Was Fanon'sposition the result of a naturalevolutionof thought? Or was it developed in the context of many historicalcontingencies? What if there had been no second world war, no Algerian revolution, no Vietnameseconflict? Could French imperialism have proceeded elsewhere without these events, and withoutreflection on these events would therehave been the notionof the colonized? The first two of these events were pivotal in the developmentof Fanon's understandingof colonialism.

In the time of Diagne and the early Cesaire and Senghor, these events had not occurred. Are not other develop- ments of their ideas imaginable? Once, when asked who coined the neologism negritude, Senghoris said to have replied, "renderunto Cesairewhat is his," suggesting that Cesaire's brilliancewas in capturingthe situationaland posi- tioned imaginationof his time and in expressingthatcreativelyand poetically. A sensitive understandingof this situationis quite a differentthing from using negritude, the term he created, as if it encapsulatedall the many different historicalmovements in FrancophoneAfrica, past and present.

A historically informedanalysis of the colonial experiencerequiresmuch more than labels. It requiresa subtle rethinkingof the indeterminacynot only of Cesaire'stime but of that which is embeddedin the circumstancesof all those peoples, past and present, caught in the web of what we today call colonialism. Developpementet socialism, Paris: Presence Africaine. Frantz Fanon. London: Panaf Books. Barth, Fredrik,ed. Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. Boston: Little Brown and Company.

Cesaire, Aime. Berkeley: University of California Press. Cohen, William B. The French Encounter with the Africans. Bloomington: IndianaUniversity Press. Wesley Johnson,ed. Westport,CT: Greenwood Press. London: Oxford University Press. Ajayi and Michael Crowder,eds. Essex: Longman. Dia, Mamadou. New York:FrederickA. Eshleman, Clayton, and Annette Smith. Berkeley: University of CaliforniaPress. Fanon, Frantz. The Wretchedof the Earth. New York:Grove Press. Gardinier, David E.


  1. Table of contents.
  2. Looking at Myself.
  3. La BIBLIA (Reina-Valera) | Biblia electrónico (Spanish Edition).
  4. The Wolves of God And Other Fey Stories;
  5. CHAPITRE I: La Problématique et son historique!
  6. The Great Black Hole: Reading for the Ghost in Césaire’s “Cahier d’un retour au pays natal,”1939.
  7. Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism. Leopold Sedar Senghor:I'hommeet l'oeuvre. Paris:Presence africaine. Horowitz, Donald L. Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley: Universityof Cal- ifornia Press. Hymans, J. Edinburgh:Edin- burghUniversity Press. Idowu, H. Irele, Abiola. Johnson, G. The Emergence of Black Politics in Senegal. Stanford: StanfordUniversity Press. Wesley Johnson, ed. Westport,CT: GreenwoodPress. July, Robert W.

    The Origins of Modern African Thought. New York: Frederick A. Kesteloot, Lilyan. Comprendre le "Cahier d'un retour au pays natal" d'Aime Cesaire. Moulineaux:Les classiques africains. LaGuerre,John Gaffar. Enemies of Empire. Langley, J. Pan-Africanism and Nationalism in West Africa: Oxford: The ClarendonPress. Levine, Victor T. New York: Greenwood Press. Lewis, Martin Deming. Liauzu, Claude. Aux Origines des Tiers-Mondismes. Paris: Editions L'Harmat- tan. Markovitz, Irving Leonard.

    Leopold Sedar Senghor and the Politics of Negritude. New York:Atheneum. Menil, Rene. Ngal, M. Aime Cesaire: Un homme a la recherche d'une patrie. Dakar: Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines. Pigeon, GerardGeorges. Wesley Johnson. Cooke, ed.

    Washington:University Press of America. Said, Edward. New York:Pantheon. Sartre, Jean-Paul. Paris: Presses Universitairesde France. Scheler, Max. New York:Schocken Books. Senghor,Leopold Sedar. On AfricanSocialism, MercerCook, trans. New York: FrederickA. Senghor, Leopold Sedar, ed. Anthologie de La nouvelle poesie negre et malgache de langue fran aise. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.

    Skurnik, WalterA. Steeves, Edna L. Thomas, Louis-Vincent. Khomiakov and L-opold Senghor. Cambridge:Harvard University. Cam- bridge, MA. Wallerstein, Immanuel. Related Papers. By Deborah Lowder. By Elizabeth Harney. By Johnson M Sesan. By crystal z campbell. Essence of senghors Negritude. By Uzu Victor. Just before the third year after the millennium, throughout the whole world, but most especially in Italy and Gaul, men began to reconstruct churches It was as if the whole world were shaking itself free, shrugging off the burden of the past, and cladding itself everywhere in a white mantle of churches.

    The phenomenon Glaber describes is a wave of construction of new and larger churches in the style known—since the early 19th century—as Romanesque. They were made possible by the collaboration of Church, aristocracy, and a nascent merchant class the bourgeoisie. What distinguished these new edifices from earlier churches was their boldness, verging on monumentality. Size mattered because churches were not simply functional houses of worship, but also—and more significantly—symbols of the divinely ordained power and authority of Church and State.

    Oeuvres principales:

    During services on solemn religious feast days, when all the social classes and ecclesiastical orders gathered within, the church—like the host at the moment of consecration—became the mystical kingdom of God. Monumentality mattered because the bigger and bolder the building—and throughout the Middle Ages churches were the tallest buildings in towns and cities, visible to travellers from miles away—the more commanding the symbolism.

    So important was this monumental imperative that it drove architectural innovation, and with it industrial and mercantile development. Romanesque churches might grow in mass horizontally, they could spread out to occupy more space, but the round arch, which was their principle support, kept them earth-bound.

    They could not soar. A new kind of supporting arch was needed—one that could distribute the weight of walls and roof differently. In one of the supreme ironies of the Middle Ages, it was from Muslim mosques that Christian churches acquired the pointed arch that would make possible the soaring heights of Gothic cathedrals. Adding to this irony is the fact that the first Crusade allowed Frankish knights to discover the graceful mosques and palaces of Islam. Sur tous les points, on verra comment Rabelais prend le contre-pied de More. Ollagnier, Claire, Petites Maisons.

    I, pp. A main question related to the debates issuing from concerned how to inhabit a space or a place. Feminists and post-colonialists also seized on these arguments to further criticize the rule of patriarchy. In this context, place was often associated with an unyielding symbolic condition in which women, other cultures, and even nature itself were contained and controlled. Certain groups countered by inventing new or other spaces and fraying pathways within and what Michel Foucault had called the gridding or quadrillage of social and political control.

    Emphasis was put on opening, indeed on inventing—both selecting and creating—new modes of physical and verbal expression and movement. As de Certeau put it in the wake of Merleau-Ponty space is existence and existence is space. It was no longer a question of looking at things in a preexisting geographical continuum res extensa but of analyzing space created between things.

    Questions of space and place are being asked anew by virtue of a shift toward ecological thinking. Indicating that the planet is warming at an unprecedented rate; that the atmosphere is clogged with carbon dioxide and methane; that the earth has trouble sustaining current demographic pressures: inalterable data have given rise to new awareness of what it means to care for the world at large. No matter if our technology is digital analogue, concepts of space and place beg two urgent questions: 1 how to inhabit a world at a time of ecological problems prompts tumult in social and political spheres?

    The address of these questions will be the matter of two seminars.



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