O.S.O.I. International Conference

« Dire l’Océan Indien »/ “Talking about the Indian Ocean,”

November 5th and 6th, 2015

University of Reunion Island 

The “Observatory for Indian Ocean Societies”  (O.S.O.I. - Observatoire des Sociétés de l’Océan Indien, Research Federation of the University of La Reunion, www.osoi.fr), is organising an international conference on November 5th and 6th, 2015, entitled “Dire l’océan Indien” or “Talking about the Indian Ocean” and is divided into four thematic areas that will be the object of two round-table discussions, each of which will be composed of four speakers and a chairman. 

  • Talking about Territory
  • Talking about Development
  • Talking about Power
  • Talking about the notion of Indianocéanie


The conference aspires to provide a space for exchange and reflection for academics belonging to various disciplinary fields, such as anthropology, law, economics, geography, history, linguistics, literature, politics, or educational science. It also aims to foreground multidisciplinary research workfocusing on Indian Ocean societies. This event presents itself as an opportunity to examine the different approaches and methodologies used in scholarship on the Indian Ocean area. 

  • The four thematic areas: 

 “Dire les territoires” / “Talking about Territory”

 “Talking about Territory” considers “territory” as signifying both “real space” (including, for example, geographical space, landscape, urban planning, development…) and “imaginary space” (as found in literary and artistic productions).

Adopting an inter-disciplinary approach wherever possible, the following conceptual areas will be considered: movement and mobility, displacement and exile, orientation and disorientation, border and margin, memory and oral tradition. Questions of identity and hybridity, contact and exchange, transfer and crossing, or transmission and passage also figure on the agenda of this meeting. 

While the countries bordering the Indian Ocean are a fertile soil for cultures and languages, with the ensuing construction of multiple identities, the Indian Ocean itself is an intricate lattice of maritime crossings and sea-faring which has in turn fostered untold imaginary worlds. As such, additional topics could include, but are not limited to: notions of contact and of migration-related transnationalism, centre and periphery dynamics, rewritings of texts with multiple shifts in point of view caused by decontextualization and re-contextualization, modes of transmission of knowledge, or transmission and revision of ideologies inscribed in discourse.

We are also very keen on examining issues of geographical territoriality, for example: the appropriation and transformation of space by societies over extended periods of time, territorial power struggles, or the origin and growth of forms of dissent caused by the complexities involved in the management of territories. 


“Dire les développements”/ “Talking about Development” 

“Talking about development” takes up the challenge of building bridges between past, present and future in this part of the world. This involves defining and framing the cultural, economic, legal and linguistic realities, given that Indian Ocean societies have experienced wide-ranging social, economic and cultural transformations under different legal systems. The aim is to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the Indian Ocean area through the observation and analysis of its developmental processes, mechanisms and dynamics.

 Focusing on the concept of sustainable human development, contributions will consider:

 - Arts, culture and development

- Law and development

- Economy and development

- Education and development

- Gender and development

- Inequalities and development

- Health and development


 “Dire les pouvoirs” / “Talking about Power”

  “Talking about power” will address questions of power relations and interplay in both island and continental nations in the Indian Ocean area. It will consider contemporary power-related issues in the light of past history.

We shall first examine the current state of power relations, focusing on: power and politics (legislative, regional, presidential elections; executive forces; actors in political life; the role played by women; the themes exploited by presidential campaigns), power and institutions (constitutions, the Indian Ocean Commission, international relations, nationality, public service, reforms and statutes, European regimes, European Union outermost territories, E.U. cooperation…), citizenship and identity, political enterprises, legal models etc.

International relations—particularly political alliances—will also be addressed. The notion of counter-power will be omnipresent though the study of political alliances, advocacy groups, interplays of power, pressure groups etc.

“Talking about Power” will also analyze the texts and discourses produced by those in power and equally the texts and discourses on the nature of power in the region. The concept of “power” itself will also have to be discussed through the study of past and present source material in publishing and media, including cinema, intellectual journals, censorship etc.


“Dire l’Indianocéanie”/ “Talking about the notion of Indianocéanie

 What does “Indianocéanie” mean? The term, signifying renewal and identity, was first used by the Mauritian writer Camille de Rauville, in Antananarivo at the beginning of the 1960s, in order to define what he perceived as “a new form of humanism in the Indian Ocean.”  The word made a remarkable comeback at the turn of the 21st century, construed as a sense of belonging and shared destiny. In June 2013, a large number of scholars from various research areas and disciplines attended the conference “Indianocéanie: base and springboard of our destiny”, held in Mahébourg (Mauritius). The aim was to reflect on this notion as articulating a sense of belonging. Today, Indianocéanie applies to all the islands in the South-West Indian Ocean, and is used both by the leaders and by the people to locate themselves on the world map. The term also appears in discussions related to the historical, societal, cultural and economic realities of our islands, suggesting not only a common past, but also that of a common future.

 Several aspects of the term will be analysed:

 - The limits of our insular world.

- The history of the construction of the notion of Indiaocéanie.

- A new Indianocéanie under the impetus of the Indian Ocean Commission?

- Indianoceanie: between the assertion of a regional identity (cultures, heritages…) and a political slogan.

- The political future of the notion.

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