Être (devenir) minoritaire - Université d’été, du 22 juillet au 31 juillet 2023 / To be (become) minority - Summer conference, from 7/22 to 7/31

Introduction and context :

This is a « make-shift » conference because it is located outside any institutional academic framework and organized without any subsidy or any support whatsoever. It is also a meeting between usually dispersed friends, around the issue : “To be (become) a Minority” – a subject I take responsibility for, but having been the object of a few polls with friends and which were not unfavorable to it. A theme fit for varied approaches, cross cutting and likely to arouse multiple echoes among those who come to discuss it.

This will be a dis- and relocated and rural conference too, since it will be held in the hamlet where we have taken root – Silcuzin (Siaugues Sainte Marie), in Haute Loire – between July 22 and 31. Plenary sessions will begin on the 24th and end on the 29th.

The desire to try this experience was inspired by the collective ordeal, certainly differentiated but trying for all, that was the long sequence of the pandemic, by no means finished, moreover. Most of you remember that, since 2005, our variable and flexible network has succeeded in bringing together international conferences every two or three years, in Chilhac, Haute Loire (2007), in Hsinchu (Taiwan) (2009), in Porto (2011), in Korça (Albania) (2014), in Istanbul (2018) (around issues such as “the cultural difference”, “orientation, disorientation”, “the political uses of the body")... In 2020, a very promising new conference was in preparation around the theme of insularity and which was to be held in Rhodes, but the pandemic reduced this beautiful project to nothing, it has loosened the links between members of the informal network, it has led to withdrawal into bubbles and more or less immune spheres.

In the academic environment, we can clearly see how the pandemic, far from having been a long episode producing temporary disturbances, has irrevocably changed the uses and practices of research work and exchanges : digital communication companies have taken advantage of which was a godsend for them to gain a foothold in academic spaces and it is not tomorrow that they will be dislodged. One of the massive and immediate consequences of this occupation has been the impoverishment of intellectual exchanges increasingly reduced to the conditions of their digital equipment. Teachers and researchers were quickly sensitive to the secondary benefits they could draw from these new conditions, we saw the multiplication of conferences, symposiums, seminars, meetings, examinations, hearings and courses online, the generalization of this device having the massive effect of the collapse of the quality of the interlocutions, the difficulty of conducting a debate worthy of the name, not to mention developing a controversy and therefore, the rise of an all-out formalism as compensation for the disappearance of face-to-face exchanges. This loss is also evident in online thesis defenses, which tend to become formalities as they bring together more and more regularly professors scattered across the four corners of the planet and whose main concern is to harmonize their time zones. Similarly, the comfort provided by the “online” makes it possible to multiply pseudo-conferences and other so-called virtual meetings, that is to say to “make numbers” in terms of results and supposed assessments and therefore to feed CVs.

I do not want to dwell interminably on these induced effects of the pandemic in the university environment which only directly interest those who are invested in it. What I wanted to draw attention to by raising this issue is the fact that the pandemic has not only produced losses of all kinds in the real time when it has been at its peak, but has also caused the appearance of bad folds – it has durably tended to influence current practices and to make others appear, these effects all working in the same direction – that of the loss of direct exchanges, debates, conversations and disputes which animate intellectual debate. It loosened the link that is established between in situ, direct intellectual exchange and the formation of a community horizon – a very obvious link for all those who have shared the adventure of our conferences. Digital is hostile to the community, whatever may be said by those whose job or passion (generally addictive) is to bring grist to the mill of social networks.

It is in this sense that our hand-made conference project could be defined as coming under the notion of counter-behavior : it is indeed a question of going, by forming a community of exchanges and debates that is so discreet only ephemeral, against the current of the impoverishment of the field of intellectual debate via, in particular (but not exclusively), its frenzied digitization. To put it in the simplest way, we need to come together, in co-presence and closeness, both for the interest of a long conversation on issues that matter and to show our desire to relaunch our meetings after the endless and trying episode of the Covid. This somewhat tinkered conference is intended to testify to the fact that the pandemic has failed to wipe out our dispersed tribe.

In any case, the need to resume the lively conversations that were interrupted by the pandemic is strong. I hope that all of you share my feeling. Please confirm your intention to participate in the closest deadlines (the less remote...) – this will make my job considerably easier, in terms of organization and logistics.

Alain Brossat
Ici et ailleurs


The place is located about a hundred kilometers from Clermont-Ferrand and Saint-Etienne, 25 from Puy-en-Velay, the prefecture of Haute-Loire. It can be reached by train either via Clermont or Lyon and Saint-Etienne. Otherwise, by car, there are also carpooling areas not far away. 500 km from Paris, by road, about a 6 hours journey. By train, on average 6 hours too.


Attending this conference will be a number of teachers, artists, retirees, a beekeeper, self—employed workers, long-term students, social workers, all of which apply to both women and men. The conference will be resolutely cosmopolitan. A Taiwanese delegation, Albanian, Chinese, Turkish, Mexican, Italian, Hong Kong, Haitian, British, Spanish friends are expected in particular... and I surely forget some. As far as languages are concerned, we will do the best, as we are used to doing and starting from the principle that has always motivated us : we live in translation and if we have not yet learned to do it, it’s never too late ! In any case, we won’t leave anyone lost in translation.

Conference activities

In practice, the conference is going to be a long week of activities : presentations and debates in the morning, a more recreational and varied, yet relevant, program in the afternoon and palaver, music, cinema (etc.) in the evening. We will be on several sites, but close, and travel will be reduced, except for recreational activities.

Accommodation and provisions

The participants will be in self-management insofar as they will supply themselves with a view to preparing their meals taken together, all under a principle of equitable sharing and in joy and good humor – even if a certain number of things can be prepared in advance. Costs will be shared and made as low as possible, in the absence, I emphasize, of any institutional support. The same goes for accommodation – but it won’t be expensive, as part of it will be based on hospitality. Participants can also pitch their tent, either in the garden or at the nearby campsite. All this will require a certain rigor in the organization, not too many nocturnal feasts in particular (if this is possible), but from this point of view, nothing new under the sun : any gathering of this kind constitutes a test in terms of of autonomy, for an ephemeral collective.

Other activities

For the evenings, we have already planned a concert which promises to be memorable, we will not say more about it at this stage of the preparation. The participants are also invited to present films which they consider appropriate to feed the discussion around our general theme. An exhibition of paintings by painter friends, who will be present, is also being prepared. The region offers many opportunities for recreational activities such as hiking, biking, canoeing, bivouacs and other night walks, swimming, picnics, visits to churches, Romanesque basilicas and other remarkable sites, relaxation, gathering medicinal plants, pétanque, etc. It is not an intensive conference, rather a convergence around a serious issue of reflection, but leaving plenty of room for informal exchanges, play, rest, relaxation. A salutary interruption of the “works and days”.

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