The Imaginary at the Crossroads of Disciplines: Territories, Conceptualizations, and Epistemological Stakes

Belkacem Belmekki's picture
May 3, 2017 to May 4, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Humanities, Social Sciences
It goes without saying that the notion of the imaginary has taken an undisputed place in the field of human and social sciences for several years now. Expressing the quintessence of human creative activity and the foundation of modern societies, its most palpable traces are found in the Arts and Literature. Also, the notion of the imaginary arouses a few questions relating to its true place in a number of disciplines: what conceptions have been given to it? Is it a mere object of analysis or the ultimate objective of all studies on man in his individuality and as a social being? These questions and many others emerge justifiably from the different meanings /connotations attributed to this notion and to the methodologies approaching it. Indeed, one of the most common definitions in research today is that the imaginary "is a word whose use and destination are uncertain: situated halfway between the concept and the sensation, it designates less a function of the mind than a space of exchange and virtuality”1. This definition presupposes that the imaginary, beyond its individual dimension, aims at the construction of a collective virtual space, having all kinds of impacts on our real life.
In the same vein, several other disciplines have focused on the manifestations of the imaginary and its aesthetics, as well as on the tools used for its analysis. Contrary to certain representations that have become embedded in academic circles, the imaginary is not the "prerogative of the literary". This notion has regained its respectability thanks to anthropology, especially with the work of Gilbert Durand2, who has himself been inspired by the work of his teachers Gaston Bachelard and Carl Gustav Jung. For G. Durand, the imaginary is as important as reason because it precedes and conditions it, a conception which differs from the ones accepted in the West since Socrates and Aristotle. To explore the imaginary is to disengage and systematize invariant forms, images which, unlike appearances, tend to constellate according to archetypes. In the field of sociology, more and more studies are concerned with collective beliefs and representations and their impact on collective movements, to foresee and analyze "major societal changes"3 starting from the innocuous facts of our daily life. The linguistic imaginary, a notion established by Anne Marie Houdebine4, stems from a convergence with the field of sociolinguistics. It aims to measure the role of the linguistic representations and attitudes of the speakers in the evaluation of their language and the establishment of a subjective norm.
Given this multiplicity of uses and implications of the notion of the imaginary, a space of "inter-knowledge", it would be interesting to take stock of current research on the notion of the imaginary in order to highlight its interdisciplinary and evolving character , as this concept continually extends its territories to practically all scientific fields.
Several axes can be addressed:
- Imaginary and interdisciplinary.
- Imaginary of the sacred and the religious.
- Imaginary and culture.
- Imaginary and linguistic representations.
- The artistic and literary imagination.
- Imaginary and political and media identities
This symposium proposes to reconsider the place of this rather complex concept, by confronting it with the new cultural, social and economic trends that have marked this century, especially in the countries of the south. Indeed, even if it seems elusive at first sight, this notion has left traces in the various artistic and cultural productions, and is often conveyed by the media in various forms and for various purposes.
Calendar :
Deadline for receipt of proposals: 28th February 2017
Date of notification of the decision of the Scientific Committee: 10th March 2017
Dates of the symposium: 3rd & 4th May 2017

Location: University of Oran 2 - Mohamed Ben Ahmed

Contact email:  OR

Contact Info: 
Pr Belkacem BELMEKKI
Laboratoire de Langues, Littérature et Civilisation/Histoire en Afrique (LE003)
Faculty of Foreign Languages
University of Oran 2 Mohamed Benahmed
Oran 31000
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