Theme I. Humans and Environment
In general terms, it is about the connection that men have with nature from a psychological, social and ecological angle. Then, in a transcultural perspective, we will study the image of nature, including in its relations with what is perceived as supernatural, and its evolution through history, the representation of nature through languages, arts and science, the history of natural environment and climate, the action of men on the environment since the prehistory until the industrial era (history of the industrial pollution), the techniques and traditional knowledge of the environmental management and ethical problems.
Theme II. Cultural Identities, Cultural Diversities and Intercultural Relations
We should first wonder about the notions of identity and culture, and then, analyze the components of a cultural identity, a language, a religion, the consciousness of being a part of a group. The dynamics of identity, the transmission, the breakings and discontinuities, the resilience of identities to globalization and the world science relation to cultural diversity should also be studied. Intercultularity could also be considered from various angles: between components of a same culture or between different cultures, between ‘scholar’ culture and ‘traditional’ culture, the dissemination of models, intercultural vehicles and areas of cross-fertilization, and ‘cultural corridors’ (the Silk Road, the Orient Express), the political dialectic of dominant and dominated cultures, and the hybridization and translation issues.
Theme III. Cultural Heritage
Apparently studied for a long time, this theme brings up new questions: destruction by war, deportation and decontextualization of heritage (looting and colonial museums), but also its transmission: what must we preserve and pass on? The complexity of the concept of inheritance and the psychological and societal implications of patrimonialisation must be studied in depth. Specific problems are posed by the preservation of digital heritage, stories, as well as contemporary music (reggae) that make room for collective memory and oral tradition.
Theme IV. Borders and Migrations
Interdisciplinary by nature, this theme mobilizes the humanities and social sciences. From the philosophical angle, it questions the concepts of border, boundary and corridor (migration of concepts). The border as a division of space requires a comparative approach in space and in time and a ‘from the bottom’ geography (the circumscribed and experienced area). The mapping can be studied through its political context, and architectural materialisation, through walls. On the subject of the concept of migration, the diasporization and resettlement can be analysed, and a humanistic approach of border crossing (xenology), the figure of the foreigner, sedentary man and traveller, the theme of exile in literature and in the arts, the ethics of hospitality as a reservoir of values and knowledge, the consequences of migration on the development of knowledge (from the exodus of the pagan scholars from Constantinople to the contemporary brain drain) can be developed. Social mobility, as the different experiences of migration of men and women should also be considered.
Theme V. History, Memory and Politics
The key issue is the connection between memory (subjective, biased and emotional), forgetfulness (selective) and history (critical, cumulative and which aims at objectivity) and the relationship between political and historical work (commemorations, memory laws). Various topics can be examined: the evolution of the concept of time (cyclic time, linear time), the transition from a Europe-centered history to a transcultural and polycentric one; the history that has been obscured by politics (post-colonial historiography); the post-conflict historiography, that is to say the approaches of history by historians representing opposite sides.
Theme VI. Scholarly work in a changing context
What is changing in the world? What is changing in the humanities? What adjustments can we make? Their connection must be examined from three perspectives: the scientific work, teaching and culture. The scientific work raises several questions: the transfer of the model of the hard sciences to the humanities, the assessment, the financing, the preference for short-term projects instead of long-term ones and the role of minorities (gender and postcolonial world). Teaching provokes a reflection about the key role of the humanities at every level of education (primary school, secondary school and higher education). Culture is about the role of journalists and the one of the humanities in the media. Common to these three issues is the question of digital technologies: digital humanities, access to and control of information, the digital gap, the connection between digital technologies and other mediums of formation and information, and, even more generally, the public expectations regarding the humanities as a source of information and knowledge.