Parisian performance poetry: a republican space for encounters?

Another presentation which I blatantly will fail to give (see this post), were to take place at a conference in Oxford in about one week’s time, Encounters and Intersections: Religion, Diaspora and Ethnicities.

The problematics of this paper give me the opportunity to look at two other aspect of the space created during a slam session: the particular quality of the encounters taking place. While only a very few of the participants talked explicitly about the political and subversive character of the slam phenomenon (see previous post), many more will describe it as a quite unique place for encounters. This is thus more of a native’s point of view than what is treated in the previous post. The ways many people describe the soirées echoes in my opinion important values of the French Republic. This is the next aspect I’ll introduce in the analysis of the space created during a session. In the previous post, I looked in the direction of connections between the local socio-political environment of the city and the soirées, in this it’s the connections between the soirées and the Republic herself I postulate. These problematics will go into chapter 2 and Chapter 5 (see the outline at the end of this post). Here’s my abstract for the conference:

Parisian performance poetry: a republican space for encounters?
Cicilie Fagerlid

In this paper, I will explore the space for encounters created during Parisian slam poetry sessions. Many participants characterise this performance poetry scene as a medium for rencontres (encounters) of people of different backgrounds. The sessions are among the most mixed events one can find in France, in terms of social and ethnic background as well as age and gender. It can thus be seen as an arch expression of the French republican ideal of mixité sociale and the value of vivre ensemble (“living together” – a term with similarities to the British notion of “community cohesion”).
The performances treat a vide variety of issues, expressed with a variety of different artistic styles, from rap to French traditional poetry via experimental theatre. However, seen from a British multiculturally inspired paradigm, the issues of collective religious or ethnic identities are conspicuously absent.
I will place the poetry sessions within the socio-political geography of East Paris (a popular, bohemian and increasingly gentrified area shaped by immigration) and the French republican paradigm of social integration. The paper is based on 16 months of fieldwork in East Paris. In addition, I will draw on my previous research project on British Asians in London.

Contact details:
Cicilie Fagerlid
Department of Social Anthropology/Cultural Complexity in the New Norway
Postboks 1091 Blindern
N-0317 Oslo

Cicilie Fagerlid is working on her PhD thesis with the preliminary title Society in the Making: Post Colonial Paris and the Slam Poetry Scene. She is employed at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Complexity in the New Norway, strategic research programme, both at the University of Oslo.

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