The next conference explores the unique spaces of port cities

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How can we examine the transition between distinct ecological communities through the prism of the social and human sciences?

These questions are at the heart of “ecotone” studies, which seek to understand the meeting places of two communities. An ecotone in ecology is defined as a transition zone between two biomes.

Borrowing from environmental sciences, this conference explores how “ecotones” can be applied to other disciplines, and in particular to transversal community spaces in a port city.

Post / colonial ports: place and not place in the ecotone, in Concordia from October 24-26, will take advantage of Montreal’s unique backdrop as a linguistically and ethnically diverse port city whose waterways facilitated colonial expansion.

“We want to reflect on the complexities of encounters in the port city through geography, arts and literature,” explains co-organizer Nalini Mohabir, assistant professor in the department of geography, urban planning and the environment of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. .

“My own interest in port cities stems from my current research on the transnational ties that link 1969 Montreal to the Caribbean through currents of radical black student protests, a reversal of the power flows that link the Caribbean to Quebec through the trade. “

The Ecotones conference series – led by Études Montpelliéraines du Monde Anglophone (EMMA) at Paul-Valéry University Montpellier 3, Coastal Carolina University (South Carolina) and MIGRINTER (UMR CNRS-Poitiers, France) – began in 2015 by a conference in Amsterdam, and subsequent events in Montpellier, London and, more recently, New York.

Mohabir co-organized the fourth edition of the series, Ecotones 4: Partitions and Borders, held in Calcutta, India.

Studying port cities

As a geographer, the subject of ecotones is of particular interest to André Roy, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

“Our faculty excels in interdisciplinary research and teaching, and supporting this conference, which examines the intersection of ecosystems from various angles, is a natural fit for us. “

Mohabir co-hosted the conference with her colleague Professor Jill Didur, Professor in the Department of English and Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs, as well as partners in France and the United States.

“The metaphor of the ‘ecotone’ as a ‘transition zone between two ecosystems, for example between land and sea’ is very relevant for the research and teaching that I do in environmental human sciences” , explains Didur.

“I am particularly interested in retracing the circulation of plants, botanical knowledge and the aesthetics of gardens as represented in literature and travel writings during the colonial period. Like other forms of resource extraction, this activity took place in an “ecotone” shaped by the process of imperialism, globalization and the anthropocene era.

Read writers

Part of the conference lineup includes a Writers’ Read event, featuring poet Shazia Hafiz Ramji and award-winning author David Chariandy.

“I’m going to read my first book, Poetry of beingRamji said. “The book revolves around the themes of surveillance, addiction, harbors and the family. “

“I can’t wait to learn more about the phenomena of ports, and the complex exchanges and imaginations that these contact spaces generate,” says Chariandy.

“I would like people to think more about how specific individuals negotiate specific sites of power, and the alternation of evocation and criticism of consciousness in the narrative.

Other speakers include geographer Pat Noxolo, who has written extensively on the decolonization of geographic knowledge, of the Caribbean site, and Lisa Paravisini-Gebert, whose recent work focuses on the ecological costs of colonization in the Caribbean.

“By bringing together these various speakers, it allows us to reflect on the links between Montreal and other port cities through the flow of capital, migration and ideas,” explains Mohabir.

“It is very much in line with our university’s mandate to embrace the city and embrace the world. “

The conference is supported by Environments, Figura, the Institute for Urban Futures, the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies on Society and Culture (CISSC), Writers Read, the Departments of English and Geography, Urban Planning and the Environment, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), The Quebec Research Fund – Society and Culture (FRQSC), and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The collaborators include the Montpellier Studies of the Anglophone World (EMMA) at the University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, International Migrations, Spaces and Societies (MIGRINTER) at the National Center for Scientific Research and the University of Poitiers, and the French House from Oxford.


Learn more about
Post / colonial ports: place and not place in the ecotone, which will take place at Concordia from October 24-26. Registrations are now open.

Learn more about Concordia English Department, and the Department of Geography, Town Planning and Environment.


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