Toni Morrison Society Holds Summer Symposium in Martinique


Martinique Symposium

Toni Morrison Society to Host Summer Symposium in Martinique

The Toni Morrison Society, in collaboration with the Martinique Tourism Authority and the Office of the Mayor of Fort-de-France, will host a three-day Symposium in Martinique June 24th through June 26th on the “Diasporic Vision and Legacies” in the works of the American novelist, essayist, and librettist Toni Morrison and Martiniquais poet, playwright, and political leader Aimé Césaire. The Symposium will begin on Monday morning, June 24th, in the Aimé Césaire Theater in Fort-de-France and will feature as keynote speakers, Edwidge Danticat, Haitian America novelist and Morrison scholar, and Daniel Maximin, Guadeloupean novelist, poet, and Césaire scholar. Sixty-five scholars, readers, and artists from the US Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean will participate in Symposium panels and discussion that will explore four central questions:

  1. What was the diasporic vision of Morrison and Césaire?
  2. How was that vision manifested in their artistic and political work?
  3. How have other African Diasporic writers been influenced by Morrison and Césaire: and
  4. What are the benefits and challenges today of maintaining cultural connections among people of the Diaspora?

"This is an important time in our history," says Board Chair Carolyn Denard, "to explore these questions, and we hope that this Symposium will establish a blueprint for continued, impactful discussions about the culture, history, and the future of people in the African Diaspora. "

A highlight of the Symposium will be the rededication of the "Bench by the Road" that the Toni Morrison Society placed in honor of Cesaire's 100th Birthday in 2013. The rededication ceremony will take place at the site of the Bench on the plaza in front of the Aimé Césaire Theater at 9:30am on Wednesday morning.

"We are pleased" Denard continued "to have the opportunity to return to Martinique this summer to rededicate the Bench by the Road we placed in 2013 for Aime Cesaire and to host this three-day Symposium that will explore more fully Cesaire and Morrison vision of the African Diaspora. The Society is especially grateful to the Martinique Tourism Authority and the Office of the Mayor of Fort-de-France for their leadership and support in making this international event possible in Martinique."

"This historical symposium, held by the Toni Morrison Society in Martinique, is an honor for our island," says Muriel Wiltord, Director Americas for the MTA. "Composed of prestigious US and International scholars, it explores two seminal voices. Toni Morrison and Aimé Césaire both harnessed the power of words, bringing with them all those who felt voiceless and solidifying an eternal truth— the pen is indeed mightier than the sword."

The Symposium will also feature three Martiniquais artists who will make presentations during the visit: Poet Marie Line Ampigny, mask maker Sylviane Eneleda, and sculptor Laurent Valére.

While in Martinique, Symposium attendees will stay in the city of Les Trois-Ilets and visit key historical sites in Martinique, including The Savane des Esclaves and the Anse Cafard Slave Memorial. The Martinique Tourism Authority sees this aspect of the visit of the Toni Morrison Society as a key opportunity to share the beauty, history, and hospitality of Martinique with a significant group of international visitors.

Symposium Schedule