This Academic Life – June

The end of June is traditionally what we often refer to as “conference season”. I have just returned from speaking on Joseph Zobel at the annual Society for French Studies conference, which was held this year in Wales at the University of Cardiff.

Academic papers are usually about 20 minutes long, with time for questions afterwards from the audience. My conference panel was responding to the theme of “Translating Cultures”, one of the “themes” the conference announced in its call for paper submissions back in 2014 (yup, you need to submit months in advance, so it takes some organizing). My paper was called “Translating Rhythms, Translating Zobel” and I examined the short story ‘Laghia de la mort’ which is about a combat dance, considering it in the light of recent scholarship around Caribbean music and dance, notably by scholar Martin Munro, and also drawing on earlier critics such as the Martinican musicologist Jacqueline Rosemain.

Then I rushed back to Birmingham for the Society of Caribbean Studies annual conference at the cultural centre The Drum. In a happy coincidence, I met a colleague there from Japan, Professor Yoshiko Shibata, who explained to me that she shows the film Rue Cases-Negres to her anthropology students at Kobe University. I’ve blogged before about this project’s (sometimes unexpected) connections with Japan – here’s another one, which reminds us of the value of Zobel as a global ambassador for Martinique.

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