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Banister Fletcher Global Fellowship in Urban Studies awarded to Olivier Marboeuf


The University of London Institute in Paris takes great pleasure in announcing that Olivier Marboeuf will take up the fourth edition of the Banister Fletcher Fellowship for 2023-24. The project will examine the 'boomerang effect' (Aimé Césaire) of 'the invention of the Caribbean' on Western societies. The programme will start in the autumn term with a series of interviews that will be made available online, and the main series of events will take place in April 2024.

Distant islands, spectral cities

The fourth edition of the Banister Fletcher Global Fellowship (2023-24), led by Olivier Marboeuf, is entitled 'Distant islands, spectral cities'. This programme will examine the 'boomerang effect' (Aimé Césaire) of 'the invention of the Caribbean' on Western societies. In particular, we will look at all the human, cultural, economic and epistemological consequences of this 'invention' on the infrastructures and sociabilities of the capitals of the major empires that contributed to it: Paris and London.

The process of dispersal at work in the construction of the Caribbean did not end with the culmination of the colonial period. It has continued to the present day through various diasporic dynamics that have led a large proportion of Caribbean populations to cross the ocean once again to settle in these two European cities. But how can we identify, now, these presences and their intensities? On the basis of what traces and places, matters and signs, events and languages, could we imagine the transformative effect of these diasporas?

Following in the footsteps of Paul Gilroy's celebrated work, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1995), we would like to design and share tools for observing the Caribbean contributions to certain European urbanities. These are industrial histories as much as they are missing and fleeting archives that engage the memory of the body (dance, music, taste, smells); fragile or ephemeral constructions (markets, shops); itinerant or oppositional architectures and micropolitics (riots and carnivals; spaces for archiving, care and struggle).

Banister Fletcher 2023 poster by Olivier Marboeuf

Along this path, we will share and study texts and films. But we will also need to build spaces and echo chambers in order to host and amplify affected voices of storytellers able to speak from intimate perspectives. To counter the risk of knowledge extraction and the reproduction of violence that founded the Caribbean trauma, we will imagine this research as a space of shared involvement and responsibilities. This space of solidarity in between Paris and London, constructed through the lens of the Caribbean diaspora, will deal with strategies of self-representations and ruses, visibility and invisibility, in particular in relation to ongoing realities and forms of racial violence in each city. The aim of this programme is to survey the cities in search of traces and to draw a moving map of community solidarity, considering the psychological, material and emotional consequences of the spectre of debt and imagining possible contributions to reparations.

The conversations and associated events throughout the academic year will promote radical hospitality towards different forms of knowledge production in order to imagine and rehearse spaces for liveable Black lives and transmissions. Academic research will dialogue with local activism, poetry, music and a wide range of emotional and situated knowledges, engaging the struggle for the right to breathe together. Streets and dance floors, flesh and machines, raw and digital material, gardens and conference halls, talks and listening sessions, small and large gatherings, whispers and screams will compose our collective vocabulary to express the vital power of Caribbean diasporic experiences and futurities.

The programme will start in the autumn term with a series of interviews that will be made available online, and the main series of events will take place in Paris in April 2024. Stay informed, sign-up for our newsletter or keep an eye on our events section.

About Olivier Marboeuf 

Olivier Marboeuf (France, 1971) is an author, storyteller, film producer and independent exhibition curator of Caribbean origin. After his studies in the sciences (mathematics and biology) at the University of Paris XI-Orsay, he created in 1992, with the author Yvan Alagbé, the alternative comic press edition AMOK and then the art centre Espace Khiasma in Les Lilas, a north eastern outskirts of Paris, which he directed from 2004 to 2018.

He taught visual arts from 2002 to 2008 at the École Supérieure d’Art in Nancy (France) and critical visual theory at Advanced Master of Sint Lucas – Antwerp (2020-2021). He has been an external tutor for MFA at Goldsmiths, University of London, HEAD Genève and École de Recherche Graphique in Brussels. He also frequently contributes workshops and master classes in French and international fine art schools and universities. He was adviser for the Fondation National des arts Graphiques et Plastiques – Fondation Rothschild from 2014 to 2015 and was on the jury for the acquisitions of the National Collection for Fine Arts from 2016 to 2018. He is currently a member of the artistic council of the Akademie des Künste der Welt in Cologne, and from 2020 he has been part of the Ateliers Médicis research and writing residency programme in Clichy-Montfermeil (outskirts of Paris).

At Khiasma, one of the first artistic venues to take an interest in postcolonial perspectives in France, he developed a programme focusing on the representation of minorities and overseas diasporas, associating seminars, exhibitions, projections, debates, and collaborative projects with local communities. Interested in different modalities for the transmission of knowledge, he reinvests the figure of the storyteller by imagining him/her as a position from which it is possible to organise stories, interrogate manners of speaking and the structures of power in the artistic and cultural field. In parallel, he develops texts and essays about decolonial practices in the fields of culture and questioning the body as an archival space. A selection of texts is accessible at the blog Toujours Debout. His performance work takes place in spaces dedicated to contemporary art and live performance art, but also university or scientific seminars. He collaborates with researchers, artists and collectives such as Ding Ding Dong (with Emilie Hermant, Vinciane Despret, Isabelle Stengers...).

In recent years, his work has focused on new epistemologies of the Caribbean, non-extractive art practices, diasporic identities and the creation of alternative pedagogical platforms to train Caribbean researchers, artists and cultural actors. He participates in the Rayo inter-Caribbean research programme and develops residency and cultural mediation programmes from a decolonial perspective. He is scientific adviser to the seminar programme for the Year 2024 of Overseas Territories in France.