Conflict in culture

Social conflicts are often found, in various forms, in works of art. The research group Conflictualité dans la littérature (Conflict in Literature), directed by Simon Harel from Université du Québec à Montréal, aims to study diverse expressions of conflict within contemporary literary and cultural spaces. More precisely, the researchers are focusing on the narrative, enunciative, discursive and emotional dimensions of conflicts based on language, class, cultural belonging and values.

The researchers are studying different areas of meaning, which they classify into three types of conflicts. Conflictual identities describe antagonisms in a community where there is, on first impression, a shared referential universe. Examples of such conflictual identities include the literary figure of the outlaw, the rebel, and the marginal. Conflictual belongings describe antagonisms in a diverse community where several referential universes intersect. Examples include the literary figure of the migrant, the refugee, or the believer. Finally, conflictual loyalties occur in societies that are destabilized by the violence of exclusion, the disintegration of the social body, and the precariousness of material and psychic survival, such as in the literary figure of the stigmatized "stranger".

The team organized a conference entitled Whither culture in spring 2010. A major international intellectual and creative happening, this event brought together more than thirty researchers, artists and critics from various disciplines to consider the question of cultural mobility. Intensified by the increase of population movements, the development of telecommunication technologies and the resurgence of public spaces, cultural mobility can assume such varied forms as cell phone theatre, flash mobs (spontaneous assembly in a public place organized via social media) and guerrilla gardening. The participants considered four facets of this phenomenon, taking a look at subjects as wide-ranging as the place of art in new media, cybermuseology, gastronomy and homelessness.

Some of the team's members also published a collective anthology in 2010 entitled Femmes et exils : formes et figures (Presses de l'Université Laval).


Équipe de recherche Conflictualité dans la littérature


Simon Harel, Université du Québec à Montréal

Regular members

  • Catherine Leclerc, Université McGill
  • Pierre Ouellet, Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Roxanne L. Rimstead, Université de Sherbrooke
  • Sherry Simon, Université Concordia