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OBERT Symposium – Women and Work: Reframing a Narrative Relationship

Aix-Marseille Université, 10 – 11 June 2024

The relationship between women and the world of labour is a complex and multifaceted one, which has been defined and continues to be redefined over time not only in material and economic terms but also on a discursive and symbolic level. If « the economy returns to being a political and relational dimension in which language plays a constitutive function, through the primary act of naming and negotiating the meaning of needs » (Giardini 2017), the voice of women still represents a subordinate perspective that is extremely necessary for understanding the processes of transformation in the world of labour (Ventura 2018).

According to the intersectional dynamics described by Nixon in Slow Violence and The Environmentalism of The Poor (2011), the relationship between hegemonic, often masculine, narratives and minority perspectives is inscribed within the broader dynamics of domination and invisibilities. Nobel Prize Claudia Goldin (2023) has described a « quiet revolution », « accomplished by many who were unaware that they were part of a grand transformation » of society and labour, which has led to various phases of women’s identity and economic emancipation during the 20th century (Goldin 2006).

In Forces of Reproduction, echoing the materialist ecofeminist philosophy, environmental historian Stefania Barca states that « women form the large majority of the global proletariat (i.e. of the dispossessed and exploited of the world) – a class of labourers whose bodies and productive capacities have been appropriated by capital and capitalist institutions ». If relational « entanglements » – from Barad’s (2007) quantum physics terminology – constitute the materiality of the world of labour, « materialist ecofeminism helps us to see the ecology of workers’ communities » (Barca 2020).

Finally, also the spring of 1962 was silent: at that moment Rachel Carson, a biologist ahead of her time, published her seminal work, Silent Spring, in which she denounced the environmental risks of capitalist overproduction. Reflecting on the importance of language for critiquing the culture of any society, the insistent, albeit polysemic, presence of the semantic field of silence around the theme of women and work is evident.

This conference investigates two different but intersecting trajectories, both synchronically and diachronically: on the one hand, the modes and forms of representing women’s labour, and on the other hand, the voices of women (writers, directors, journalists, artists) who have dealt with labour, both as a theme and as a metanarrative element, as a narrative device or as an object of theoretical study.

1945 is fixed as the post quem term. Albeit with significant differences, 1945 can be considered as a period of profound transformation for European societies and economies. Within these temporal and spatial coordinates, we aim to initiate an interdisciplinary and transmedia reflection on artistic representations that explore the relationship between the theme of labour and the female perspective, highlighting its forms, themes, and structures. With this conference, we intend to gather an initial survey of case studies, where the voices of women can occupy both the place of the represented theme and the role of the speaking subject—an artist observing and representing the world of labour from a minority and potentially alternative perspective.


We encourage submission across different cultural contexts:

– thematic critique on the relationship between the theme of labour and female perspectives;

– role and forms of the female authorial voice;

– intersectionality on ecology, labour and gender issues;

– transmediality in the creation and interpretation of works;

– postcolonial criticism and migration.

Contributions are welcome in English, French and Italian, as the languages of communication during the conference.

You are invited to send an abstract of max. 350 words, followed by a bio-bibliographical note of max. 100 words to the following email address: carlobaghetti@gmail.com, irene.cecchini@univ-amu.fr, francesca.nardi11@unibo.it, by 31 March 2024.

A notification of acceptance will be forwarded by the 3rd of April.

Each paper will consist of a 20-minute presentation, followed by a 10-minute discussion.

Scientific and organising committee:

Carlo Baghetti (LEST/CNRS)

Irene Cecchini (Aix-Marseille Université INCIAM, CIELAM/LPC)

Francesca Nardi (Università di Bologna)

Séminaire : « Le travail dans la littérature arabe, entre passé et présent »

L’Institut de recherches et d’études sur les mondes arabes et musulmans (IREMAM) et l’Observatoire européen des récits du travail (OBERT) présentent leur première série de séminaires conjoints consacrés au thème du travail dans le monde arabe, qui s’inscrit dans le cadre des activités du PÔLE LANGUES, LITTÉRATURE, LINGUISTIQUE du laboratoire. L’objectif de cette collaboration est d’explorer la production culturelle arabe, en particulier la production littéraire, en quête de récits et de représentations du travail susceptibles d’enrichir non seulement la connaissance de la région arabe et de sa production littéraire, mais aussi, dans une perspective comparative, le champ plus large et transdisciplinaire des Labour Studies. Malgré son importance politique et stratégique, la région du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord est en effet largement absente des débats comparatifs interrégionaux sur le thème du travail. Cet objet de recherche, qui est en revanche central dans la conjoncture géopolitique actuelle du monde arabe, a été principalement exploré au niveau national, avec des études qui se concentrent sur les réalités individuelles des différents pays étudiés, presque exclusivement dans le cadre des sciences politiques et sociales. Néanmoins, la littérature arabe, autant classique que moderne, révèle beaucoup des détails sur les liens entre le travail et l’individu dans les sociétés de ces pays, mettant en évidence des relations de domination et de codépendance, des formes nouvelles et anciennes de colonialisme impérialiste, mais aussi des stratégies d’émancipation et de libération individuelle et collective.

Le cycle de séminaires – qui se tiendra en mode hybride, en ligne et en présentiel – comprendra les trois réunions suivantes :

  • Mercredi 21 février 2024, 15h00 (heure de Paris) :   “So far, so close: narrating work migration to the Gulf in Egyptian literature”, Cristina Dozio (Università degli Studi di Milano) – PRÉSENTATION UNIQUEMENT EN LIGNE ET EN ANGLAIS

Résumé de l’intervention : Cette présentation examinera la migration de la main-d’œuvre vers le Golfe telle qu’elle est représentée dans la fiction égyptienne, en se concentrant sur le roman Daqq al-Taboul (Battement de tambour, 2005) de Mohammed el-Bisatie (1937-2021). Ce roman combine réalisme et fantastique pour aborder des questions telles que les relations de pouvoir, la solidarité transnationale, le contrôle du corps et la narration dans le contexte de la migration.

  • Jeudi 25 avril 2024, 14h00 (heure de Paris) : « De poète de la tribu à poète de la rue – les transformations de statut et de conditions de vie des poètes arabophones à l’époque prémoderne », Hakan ÖZKAN (IREMAM – Université d’Aix-Marseille) – HYBRYDE : Salle A219 IREMAM, MMSH et Zoom

Résumé de l’intervention : Dans cette intervention nous accorderons une attention particulière à la notion de mobilité sociale des poètes, c’est-à-dire à la capacité de ces auteurs à s’élever au-delà de leur statut socio-économique initial, à travers leurs carrières en tant que poètes mais également dans d’autres domaines professionnels. Nous explorerons en outre la thématique de la précarité, qu’elle soit d’ordre économique ou physique. Cette précarité s’étend souvent à la relation délicate entretenue avec leurs mécènes, familles ou tribus, mettant en évidence la menace permanente de tomber en disgrâce et/ou subir des conséquences financières et physiques, parfois graves.

  • Mardi 25 juin 2024, 9h00 (heure de Paris) : « Le corps du travailleur migrant dans le roman arabe contemporain » Miloud Gharrafi (Université de Lyon 3) – HYBRYDE : Salle André Raymond, IREMAM, MMSH et Zoom

Résumé de l’intervention : « L’immigré n’est que son corps » dit le sociologue A. Sayad. Le migrant en situation régulière ou irrégulière ne tire sa légitimité sociale que par son insertion en milieu professionnel pour lequel il a émigré. La littérature de la migration en général et le roman arabe en particulier accordent une place primordiale à la question du travail dans son rapport socio-économique et socio-culturel avec le corps.  Cette intervention propose de mettre au jour la contribution du roman arabe contemporain de la migration à l’exploration du corps du travailleur migrant. Elle abordera les représentations sociales et culturelles du corps-labeur en contexte migratoire en Occident et dans le monde arabe ainsi que l’impact de ces représentations sur la dimension littéraire du roman.

Les trois présentations mettront en évidence le binôme « travail-mobilité » qui caractérise les sociétés arabes d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, tant sur le plan spatial que symbolique, en nous faisant traverser différentes époques historiques et différents territoires géographiques. En effet, ces derniers varieront de l’espace national des pays retenus à l’espace régional arabe, attirant notre attention, dans un premier temps, sur le phénomène de la migration de la main-d’œuvre au sein du monde arabe lui-même, dirigée principalement vers les pays producteurs de pétrole du Golfe, et, plus tard, vers l’Europe et l’Occident. Cela nous permettra de nous interroger sur les tensions qui traversent encore aujourd’hui le discours sur l’altérité au sein de nos sociétés contemporaines et d’ouvrir à de plus larges comparaisons dans les études portant sur l’univers du travail migrant.

Pour ceux qui souhaitent suivre les discussions à distance, un lien zoom sera fourni après l’inscription par e-mail à l’adresse suivante : annamaria.bianco@univ-amu.fr

“Labour in Arabic literature, between past and present”

The Institute of Research and Study on the Arab and Islamic Worlds (IREMAM) and the European Observatory of Labour Narratives (OBERT) present their first cycle of joint seminars dedicated to the theme of work in the Arab world, as part of the activities of the department’s LANGUAGES, LITERATURE, LINGUISTICS POLE. The aim of this collaboration will be to explore Arab cultural production (especially the literally one), in search of labour narratives and representations that can enrich not only knowledge about the Arab region and its literary production, but also, from a comparative perspective, the broader and transdisciplinary field of Labour Studies. Despite its political and strategic importance, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has indeed been largely absent from interregional comparative labour debates. Instead, this research topic, which is extremely central to the Arab world’s current geopolitical conjuncture, has mostly been explored at the national level, with studies focusing on the realities of individual countries, as well as almost exclusively within the field of political and social sciences. Nevertheless, Arabic literature, both classical and modern, reveals much about the links existing between labour and the individual in the societies of the Arab countries, highlighting relationships of domination and co-dependence, new and old forms of imperialist colonialism, but also strategies of emancipation and individual, as well as collective, liberation.

The seminar series – to be held in hybrid online and presential mode – will consist of the following three meetings:

– Wednesday 21 February 2024, 3 p.m.(Paris time-zone): « So far, so close: narrating work migration to the Gulf in Egyptian literature », Cristina Dozio (University of Milan) – MEETING ONLY ONLINE AND IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Presentation Abstract: This presentation will look at work migration to the Gulf as represented in Egyptian fiction, with a focus on Daqq al-Taboul (Drumbeat, 2005) by Mohammed el-Bisatie (1937-2021). His novel combines realism and fantasy to tackle issues such as power relations, transnational solidarity, control over the body, and storytelling in the migrating context.

– Thursday, 25 April 2024, 2 p.m. (Paris time-zone):  » De poète de la tribu à poète de la rue – les transformations de statut et de conditions de vie des poètes arabophones à l’époque prémoderne « , Hakan ÖZKAN (IREMAM – Université d’Aix-Marseille) – HYBRID SEMINAR : Salle A219 IREMAM, MMSH and Zoom

Presentation Abstract: In this talk we will pay particular attention to the notion of social mobility of poets, i.e. the capacity of these authors to rise above their initial socio-economic status, through their careers as poets, but also in other professional fields. We will also explore the theme of precarity, both economic and physical. This precariousness often extends to the delicate relationship maintained with their patrons, families or tribes, highlighting the constant threat of falling into disgrace and/or suffering financial and physical consequences, sometimes severe.

– Tuesday 25 June 2024, 9 a.m. (Paris time-zone):  » Le corps du travailleur migrant dans le roman arabe contemporain  » Miloud Gharrafi (Université de Lyon 3) – HYBRID SEMINAR : Salle André Raymond, IREMAM, MMSH and Zoom

Presentation Abstract: ‘The immigrant is only his body,’ sociologist A. Sayad stated. Migrants, whether legal or illegal, derive their social legitimacy solely from their integration into the professional environment for which they migrated. Migration literature in general, and the Arab novel in particular, give ample space to the question of work in its socio-economic and socio-cultural relationship with the body. This talk will explore the contribution of the contemporary Arab novel to the exploration of the migrant worker’s body. In particular, it will examine the social and cultural representations of the workers’ body in the context of migration in the West and in the Arab world, along with the impact of these representations on the literary dimension of the novel.

The three presentations will particularly highlight the work-mobility pair that characterises Arab societies of the past and present, both spatially and symbolically, taking us through different historical epochs and geographical territories. Indeed, the latter will vary from the national space of individual countries to the regional space, bringing our attention initially to the phenomenon of labour migration within the Arab world, directed mainly towards the oil-producing countries of the Gulf, and later on to Europe and the West.

For anyone wishing to follow the meetings online, a zoom link will be provided after registering via e-mail at: annamaria.bianco@univ-amu.fr.

[CFP] Mediterranean Working-Class Literatures


International Conference
University of Thessaly, Volos
14-15 June 2024
Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Dr. Monica Jansen, Utrecht University

Despite its establishment as a geographic space and field of widespread and consolidated imaginary investments, the Mediterranean resists any definite and unanimous delimitation and topographic ring-fencing. In fact, the Mediterranean is indissolubly tied to its discourses (Metvejevic, 1999, p. 12), which, on a diachronic axis, include both orientalist approaches and attempts to resist or overturn implicit or explicit value judgments intrinsic to these narratives (Camus, 1948; Cassano, 2005). Although traditionally viewed through the lens of a geographically static ‘Mediterraneanism’ either as a single, closed space or as a hotbed of conflict and contrasts (Herzfeld, 1984), the Mediterranean has been recently approached on the basis of diverse scales, in order to explore asymmetrical relations of symbolic and institutional power. The term ‘postcolonial sea’ both involves part of these shifting relations and places an emphasis on fluidity and exchange.
In this context, mobility arises as an invaluable compass for the navigation of the unchartable Mediterranean Sea. During the 20th and the 21st century, Mediterranean ports have constituted points of departure for overseas journeys; of arrival, for intra-Mediterranean transfers; transit points for routes to northern destinations. However, the intensification of mobility has been accompanied by a retentive process of control based on social stratification, which both regulates the circulation of primarily labour skills and effects the institutionalization of material and symbolic, internal and external, borders. The concept of ‘class’, therefore, is particularly pertinent in this instant, especially when taking into account that certain, primarily gendered, codes regularly employed for the analysis of Mediterranean cultures may be interpreted as expressions of class relations (Herzfeld, 1984, p. 66; de Pina-Cabral, 1989, p. 402).
Drawing on the above remarks, this conference starts from the premise that working-class narratives focusing on the Mediterranean renegotiate the stereotypical, often gendered, hierarchically interlinked representations of European North and South, East and West, which discursively construct the Mediterranean in terms of inclusion and exclusion. Hence the adoption of the Mediterranean as a context of literary production, point of reference and comparative literary study allows for a more thorough understanding of working-class narratives, which, in this particular area, are closely related to migratory phenomena.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) The Mediterranean as a cultural context for working-class narratives

2) The intersection of class with other social categories (gender, ethnicity, sexuality) in Mediterranean working-class narratives

3) Comparative examinations of working-class narratives belonging to diverse literary traditions of the Mediterranean

4) Diasporic working-class narratives

5) Migration as a motif in Mediterranean working-class narratives

6) Comparative analysis with other types of working-class narratives in the Mediterranean (cinematic, autobiographical, etc.)

The conference will take place on-site at the University of Thessaly, in the city of Volos; however, provisions will be made for on-line participation, in exceptional cases.
Interested contributors are invited to submit in a 250-word abstract in English or Greek, accompanied by a short bio, by February 10, 2024 to: medworklit@gmail.com. Please also use this email address for any further queries. Contributors will be notified by the Scientific Committee by February 20, 2024. Selected conference papers will be published in a collective volume.

Organising Committee
Vasiliki Petsa, Postdoctoral Researcher & PI of the research project GEWOCL (H.F.R.I.), University of Thessaly
Evgenia Sifaki, Assistant Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Thessaly
Vasileiοs Petikas, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Crete, Scientific Associate of the research project GEWOCL (H.F.R.I), University of Thessaly
Nikolaos Kalogiros, Ph.D. Candidate & Scientific Associate of the research program GEWOCL (H.F.R.I), Department of Early Childhood Education University of Thessaly
Carlo Baghetti, Chercheur contractuel Centre National Recherche Scientifique – CNRS, member of the research group OBERT
Erica Bellia, Junior Research Fellow, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, member of the research group OBERT

Scientific Committee
Vasiliki Petsa, Postdoctoral Researcher & PI of the research project GEWOCL (H.F.R.I.), University of Thessaly
Evgenia Sifaki, Assistant Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Thessaly
Carlo Baghetti, Chercheur contractuel Centre National Recherche Scientifique – CNRS, member of the research group OBERT
Erica Bellia, Junior Research Fellow, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, member of the research group OBERT

Bibliography
Metvejevic, P (1999) Mediterranean. A Cultural Landscape (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press).
Camus, A. (1959)[1948] ‘L’ exil d’ Hélène’, in L’ été, (Paris: Gallimard), 75-83.
Cassano, F. (2005) Il pensiero meridiano (Bari: Editori Laterza).
Herzfeld, M. (1984) ‘The Horns of the Mediterraneanist Dilemna, American Ethnologist, Vol. 11, No. 3, 439-454.
Chambers, I. (2008) Mediterranean Crossings: The Politics of an Interrupted Modernity (Durham & London: Duke University Press).
Giaccaria, P. & Minca, C. (2010) ‘The Mediterranean alternative’, Progress in Human Geography, Vol. 35, No. 3 (2001), 345-365.
de Pina-Cabral, J. (1989) ‘The Mediterranean as a Category of Regional Comparison: A Critical View’, Current Anthropology, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Jun., 1989), pp. 399-406.

This conference is supported by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I.) under the “3rd Call for H.F.R.I. Research Projects to support Post-Doctoral Researchers” (Project Number:7520, GEWOCL, PI: Vasiliki Petsa).