In Cerisy, immersed in the work of Edouard Glissant during a ten-day conference [INTERVIEW]

Eleven years after the death of Edouard Glissant, the Château de Cerisy hosted a symposium on the famous Martinican thinker until August 11 in the presence of his wife and son. On the occasion of this ten-day study entitled “Edouard Glissant, the global relationship”, Sylvie Glissant answered La1ère’s questions.

At the International Cultural Center of Cerisy, we are used to organizing meetings that bring together artists, philosophers, researchers, teachers, students or actors from the economic and social world. Since 1952, the center has hosted 850 conferences at Château de Cerisy. This is where Oulipo, the literary movement of Raymond Queneau popularized by Hervé le Tellier, Goncourt Prize 2020 for the Anomalyimagined.

Here again a symposium on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Aimé Césaire in 2013 was held in the presence of specialists and “young plants“. Many personalities, philosophers and writers walked on the stones of the castle such as Leopold Sedar Senghor, Roland Barthes, Paul Ricoeur, Edgar Morin, Jacques Derrida and many others.

Edouard Glissant in 1982 at the Center Georges Pompidou


This time, from Tuesday August 2 to Thursday August 11, will give way for specialists and amateurs to the work of Edouard Glissant. Organized by Sam Coombes from the University of Edinburgh, Tiphaine Samoyault (Paris EHESS) and Christian Uwe from the University of Minnesota, the colloquium was conceived with the help of Sylvie Glissant and her son Mathieu Glissant. The philosopher’s wife agreed to answer La1ère’s questions.

La1ère: This year, Cerisy hosted a symposium with your husband Edouard Glissant. For ten days, experts from all over the world will present and analyze many aspects of Edouard Glissant’s work. Is this event important to you?

Sylvie Glissant : Yes, this is an important event that will take place at the Cerisy International Cultural Center, which has been around for a long time (since 1952!), one of the main meeting places where researchers, writers, teachers, students, and artists from all over the world took the time of several days to discuss and put into perspective the works of the greatest writers and artists and question the contemporary world in all its dimensions. It is certainly what Edouard Glissant calls a “common place“where the minds of the world meet other minds of the world, and where his work, especially here, can be placed in resonance with what concerns us today, it “shaking the world“, he said, which we all feel now.

The current period is marked by a war in Ukraine in the heart of Europe, an unprecedented epidemic, the Covid, which raises many questions about the vaccine, a severe climate crisis, an economic crisis that there is corollary inflation that promises to be brutal. and extremism on the rise across the planet. How can the work of Edouard Glissant guide us?

It seems to me that the poetic thought of Edouard Glissant leads us to another “political” way of apprehending our relationship with the world through the sensitive openness it offers (linking the thought of political action for all to the expression of our sensitivity), opens up a better understanding of what makes us angry, how we all are today join, this unpredictable chaos that surprises us at the same time, at all ends of the planet and in our personal lives.

It is a new perspective, a way of positioning ourselves in the world, of thinking with him, starting from our place, while being in relation to other places that share these same vibrations of the planet. Positioning oneself in the world from a person, no matter how small, allows a grip and the possibility of changing reality, sometimes even fixing it, if we are united with each other wherever we are. For me, what he calls “globality” is this new unity of the humanities themselves, which is the opposite of globalization: a machine that sees large systems of thought, economic and political, governed by a few , as we know. .. Imagining a new globality with Edouard Glissant means thinking about a political commitment to the relationship, where we are all players in change, it means being able to imagine other possible ones world for all of us. .. Maybe this is a new optimism? A method of resistance too.

In a show online Invitation to travel with Laure Adler at the RFO in 2004, Edouard Glissant said: “Without a change in imagination, we will continue to kill each other“. How did Edouard Glissant realize this change in imagination that is necessary to live together according to him?

Edouard Glissant often said: “I write in front of all the languages ​​of the world, even though I know nothing“. It is the presence of the other in question, which we must now consider, a way of feeling the co-presence of the different imaginaries that touch us and dialogue beyond the separation and boundaries that ‘they want to impose us. (to force us into controlled spaces) through languages, music, creatures, new movements that come to us from everywhere and that we enjoy sharing together… See how we sometimes reject the other, the foreigner, while we share their songs, their cuisines, their flavors that become part of our lives and attract them.

Edouard Glissant’s work is very complex, not easy to read (even Patrick Chamoiseau says!). How to approach Glissant’s work in an uninhibited way?

Edouard Glissant said you don’t have to try “to understand” what he wrote, but allow oneself to listen to his words, his rhythms, so that they resonate inside us and feel what they sometimes reveal close to us, different from each one. This is also poetry, in another way. to listen to things, even if it is accompanied by intellectual speculation. Poetry opens us to another sensitive type of knowledge.

Mathieu, Sylvie and Ava Glissant

Mathieu, Sylvie and Ava Glissant

© DR

Edouard Glissant developed a whole series of concepts, starting with Tout-Monde and Créolization. How can these two concepts be explained in a simple way?

I will start again with a quote from Edouard Glissant: “I can change by exchanging with others without losing myself or damaging myself“. I think this quote expresses well the new situation of each of us in relation to the world, while preserving its diversity, its difference. The world has become a Tout-Monde, a different worlds where the relationship with others and the living is inevitable and is the condition for all of us, into live in world indeed. The creolization of the world is an ongoing process. Edouard Glissant said “the world has become Creole, that does not mean that it has become Creole”. The world operates more and more in a way of exchange that includes permanent changes in all the particular elements of life, with shocks, conflicts, dramas, upheavals, but also with beauties, these unexpected occurrences born of our encounters and our shared joy.

You are the head of the Institut du Tout-Monde. What is the origin of this institute? What are your activities? Is it open to everyone?

The Institut du Tout-Monde continues its vocation to be a “common ground” in fidelity to the purpose of Edouard Glissant who created it in 2006. Our activities are many in all fields of human arts and sciences and above all “Relevant“with different regions of the world, across the ocean in a dialogue”isles“Above all. Our broadcasts and our newsletter are accessible on our platforms ( The Institut du Tout-Monde is open to everyone, of course.

Why is it so important for you to spread the thought and work of your husband Edouard Glissant?

It has been an uninterrupted partnership for 40 years. He left us 11 years ago, but he didn’t leave the world. His voice is still there and more of us hear it, putting it in resonance with our own voices.

Was it a wonderful adventure to live with such a poet and philosopher or was it sometimes rough?

It is difficult for me to answer this question. I come from the mountains of the Pyrenees and before us, our places, as far as they are, started talking to each other and loving each other until now. After… Life is made up of explosions and not a long calm river, they say. But that’s what makes it beautiful and I continue to allow myself to be guided by these waters.

Edouard Glissant was a novelist, poet and philosopher. He won the Renaudot prize for The Lezarde in 1958. A finalist on several occasions for the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1992, he was missed by one vote for the prize won that year by Derek Walcott. His works have been studied and translated all over the world from Japan to Mexico. Edouard Glissant imagines ideas like Antillanity, the All-World, creolization, relational thoughts, relationship identity or rhizome as opposed to single-root identity.

He participated in the first congress of black writers and artists in Paris in 1956 at the Sorbonne. In 1961, he founded the Antillean-Guyanese front for autonomy with Marcel Manville and Paul Niger, which was dissolved by the government a few months after its creation. Back in Martinique, in 1967 he created the Martinican Institute of Studies. In 1981 he wrote The Antillean discourse then in 1997 Global Agreement. From 1980 to 1988, Edouard Glissant addressed the Unesco Courier, an international journal.

From 1988, he taught in the United States, first in Louisiana then in New York. From 1993 he became actively involved in the new International Parliament of Writers that had just been created. It is also linked to an international network of cities of refuge. He founded the Institut du Tout-Monde in Paris in 2006. Born on September 21, 1928 in Sainte-Marie, Martinique, he died in Paris on February 3, 2011 at the age of 82.

Leave a Comment