CfP: Student movements and (post-)colonial emancipations, 9 December 2016, Paris, Deadline: 20 September 2016

Call for Papers

Student movements and (post-)colonial emancipations : transnational itineraries, dialogues and programmes

9 December 2016, Université Paris Diderot

Deadline for abstracts: 20 September 2016


Cecil-John-Rhodes-statue--009This one-day conference investigates the role of student movements in individual and collective emancipations, from the struggle for colonial liberation to the challenges posed by contemporary globalisation. Social movements in favour of colonial disengagement or student movements in the wake of Occupy, Indignados and NuitDebout, can shed light on the ambiguous evolutions of the well-defined ideological polarisation – marxist/anti-marxist, or anti-capitalist/capitalist – of the Cold War. Some revivals, which point to a “digital Cold War” around the combined challenges of globalisation and the making of a digital society, have shifted ideological polarisation whilst giving centre stage to the debates of dismayed economists, anti-globalisation or neo-communist groups (as demonstrated by the success of Thomas Piketty and the debates of NuitDebout on a universal salary).

The role of student movements has been the object of major studies and remains a vibrant field, as is shown by recent research on the role of African students in France and the United Kingdom during independence and decolonisation, the international research programme on African students and elites trained in the countries of the ex-Soviet bloc (ELITAF) and the publications on student mobilisations against war and major international societal challenges. New importance has also been given to the question of memory and commemoration in the making of the nation, to the ways in which memory is expressed, to artistic creativity as a driver of youth emancipation, and to the role of young people in societal transformations. The impact of non-governmental organisations in the transformation of the objectives and means of political action in the 20th and 21stcenturies has been acknowledged, as shown by the work of Matthew Hilton or Wolfram Kaiser, while transnational studies have shed new light on contemporary diplomacy, as demonstrated by Akira Iriye.

This conference seeks to bring these various approaches together, in order to discuss the transnational and connected history of student engagements in colonial liberations and the critical reflection on the multilateral management of conflicts in the postcolonial period. It will investigate internal and external tensions, and the reorganisation of these movements in relation to pacifism, revolutionary struggle, conflict prevention and peace making. It will also consider the impact of the new multilateral management of conflicts (through the United Nations, but also the European Union) on European and North American societies, including on young people and student movements, whose membership often goes far beyond national spheres.

Papers are welcome on the following:

  • the principles and methods of militancy, in relation to (non-)violence, reformism and revolutionary tactics
  • the channels and evolutions of transnational relations between student movements
  • the impact of mobility and migration
  • the impact of technological change on the shape and contents of debates
  • the influence between student organisations, unions and political parties, their impact on the formulation and implementation of programmes (national, transnational, international)
  • the impact of the experiences of students abroad, particularly on their later political, business or cultural careers
  • the relationship between decolonisation and globalisation, and the evolution of student militancy on these issues
  • the impact of new exchange programmes, driven by international organisations and non-governmental organisations, on the political and cultural stands of student movements
  • the forms of mobilisation and expression, including demonstrations, political writings, art
  • the practice of commemoration and memorialisation and their contestation
  • transfers and translation, language, financial and technical issues in transnational exchanges between student movements
  • the evolution of academic courses and university exchanges on issues of struggle and emancipation.


Abstracts (250 words max.) in English or French and a short CV should be sent to Mark Meigs ( and Mélanie Torrent ( before 20 September 2016.

This conference is organised by Fabrique du Politique (Université Paris Diderot) and the Laboratoire de recherches sur les cultures anglophones (LARCA).

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