May 29th, 2019 Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 “In-betweenness: spaces, practices and representations”


Salle Athéna, Maison de la Recherche, 4 rue des Irlandais, 75005 Paris

This conference seeks to invite participants to engage with the idea of “in-betweenness” in the English-speaking world. “In-betweenness” can be understood as a liminal space or state that implies dynamics of continuity, separation, transition, overlapping, and mobility. It involves issues related to territories, practices and representations. It can be studied in a range of fields. Therefore we encourage submissions from disciplines including history, geography, sociology, anthropology, political science, geopolitics, linguistics, translatology, literature and different types of art.

Border studies is a particularly emblematic and fruitful area of research on in-betweenness. A border can be defined as a place where one sovereignty ends and where another begins. It is a space of discontinuity, a limit between two states, two languages, and two national histories [Foucher, 2007]. It also constitutes a space of transition where sustained economic, socio-cultural and political exchanges take place [Martinez, 2012; Amilhat-Szary, 2015]. At a time when borders are being redefined, reinforced and sometimes militarized, trans-border and international circulation intensifies and becomes more complex, creating mixed, transitional, and pending statuses or situations that impact people’s personal destinies [Chavez, 2016].

Migration is another conducive field. From the decision to leave to the arrival and adjustment in the host society, immigrants, but also their descendants, embody real or imagined in-betweenness [Bruneau, 2004; Hovanessian, 2007]. Their physical, political and symbolic comings and goings between “here” and “there” create territorial transformations, social spaces, hybrid identities; they reinvent or revisit languages, literature and art forms [Alexandre-Garner and Keller-Privat, 2014]. They produce and maintain transnational networks, giving rise to new issues and innovative repertoires of mobilization in both the host country and the country of origin [Glick-Schiller, Basch and Blanc Szanton, 1992; Waldinger, 2015].

What are the impacts of trans-border and transnational movements on these spaces? How do the different stakeholders view those circulations? How do social scientists, journalists, artists, and politicians engage with in-between communities? How to deal with this fluid and protean notion?

In-betweenness can also address questions pertaining to research practices. Indeed, trans-disciplinarity is gaining momentum in the social sciences, which paves the way for the emergence of new voices and collaborations, as well as unmapped and unexplored academic fields. What are the stakes, outcomes and constraints of cross-disciplinary approaches? Similarly, in-betweenness concerns reflexivity in research and issues about social scientists’ position regarding the object they study and the society they belong to [Bourdieu and Wacquant, 2014]. Both an observer and a participant, an outsider and an insider [Merton, 1972; Nowicka and Ryan, 2015; Humphrey, 2007], a researcher acts as an intermediary between parties who might have different and divergent interests. Consequently, researchers must sometimes assume conflicting roles and are faced with ethical challenges they cannot ignore [Elias, 1993].

We invite participants to consider submissions on the following topics:

  • Trans-border spaces and the borderlands: historical and political construction; social, political and cultural productions; multiple identifications; media and artistic representations of singular spaces with plural issues.
  • Migration and its consequences: forms of circulation; impact on places of origin and host places; diasporas, transnational practices, multiculturalism, bilingualism; intercultural relations; multiple, hybrid or hyphenated identities.
  • In-between migratory statuses: asylum seekers; pending immigration cases; immigrant families with mixed statuses.
  • Forms and degrees of integration: different/divergent models of assimilation; complex processes of incorporation/exclusion; case studies of groups experiencing both integration and marginalization.
  • Language and hybridity: exile and diaspora literature; translation issues of multicultural or polyglot authors; evolution and representations of creole languages; status, forms and recognition of diaspora and heritage languages.
  • Cross- and trans-disciplinarity in research: issues, possible methods, challenges.
  • Issues of positionality: the challenges of qualitative research; how researchers grapple with different positions as well as different forms and degrees of commitment in their study.

The conference seeks to focus on the English-speaking world, but contributions about other areas will be welcome.

Interested presenters are requested to send a 350-word abstract, in French or in English, with a title and a short biography, to the organizers Anouche Der Sarkissian ( and Cléa Fortuné ( by March 15th, 2019. The selected participants will be informed before March 31st, 2019.

This event is organized with the support of CREW (Center for Research on the English-Speaking World) and the ED 514 (Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3).


  • Alexandre-Garner Corinne, Keller-Privat Isabelle, Migrations, exils, errances et écritures, Nanterre : Presses universitaires de Paris Nanterre, 2014.
  • Amilhat-Szary Anne-Laure, Qu’est-ce qu’une frontière aujourd’hui ?, Paris : PUF, 2015.
  • Bourdieu Pierre, Wacquant Loïc, Invitation à la sociologie réflexive, Paris: Editions du Seuil, 2014.
  • Bruneau Michel, Diasporas et espaces transnationaux, Paris: Editions Anthropos, 2004.
  • Chavez Sergio, Border Lives: Fronterizos, Transnational Migrants, and Commuters in Tijuana, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Elias Norbert, Engagement et distanciation: Contributions à la sociologie de la connaissance, Paris: Fayard, 1993.
  • Foucher Michel, L’obsession des frontières, Paris : Editions Perrin, 2007.
  • Glick Schiller Nina, Basch Linda, Blanc Szanton Cristina, “Transnationalism: a new analytic framework for understanding migration”, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, n°645, July 1992.
  • Hovanessian Martine, “Diasporas et identités collectives”, Hommes et migrations, n° 1265, January-February 2007.
  • Humphrey Caroline, “Insider-outsider: Activating the hyphen”, Action Research, n°5, 2007.
  • Martinez Oscar J., Troublesome Border, Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2006.
  • Merton Robert K., “Insiders and Outsiders: A Chapter in the Sociology of Knowledge”, American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 78, n° 1, 1972.
  • Nowicka Magdalena, Ryan Louise, “Beyond Insiders and Outsiders in Migration Research: Rejecting A Priori Commonalities. Introduction to the FQS Thematic Section on ‘Researcher, Migrant, Woman: Methodological Implications of Multiple Positionalities in Migration Studies’ ”, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 16, n° 2, May 2015.
  • Waldinger Roger, The Cross-border Connection – Immigrants, Emigrants, and Their Homelands, Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2015.





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