After "Nature and Culture" in 2014 (Dijon), "Rhythm" in 2015 (Montpellier) and "Image" in 2016 (Rennes), the theme of the next annual conference of the Institut Universitaire de France, taking place in Bordeaux in 2017, is "(A) Symmetry." This conference is co-organized by the University of Bordeaux, University Bordeaux Montaigne, Bordeaux INP and University of Limoges.

The organizers have chosen the theme "(A) Symmetry" because of its broad spectrum which translates multiple connections in a variety of disciplines ranging from social sciences to reputable "exact" sciences, through the arts and medicine. These two words into one to want to express the duality of a universal concept in line with the thematic plurality defended by the IUF. This duality between symmetry and asymmetry is a source of creativity and innovation in architecture, the visual arts, design and music, where it opposes or combines stability and dynamics, equality and inequality, and it inspires ethical or aesthetic choices. The symmetry breaking is crucial also in studying biology, chemistry, physics and even mathematics. In politics, literature, economics and geography, this concept of (a)symmetry also allows us to understand and interpret many aspects of social and cultural life. In historical linguistics, the paradigmatic asymmetry is at the heart of heuristic prospects of reconstruction, and in anthropology, the choice between the asymmetry and symmetry, especially between cultures or between culture and nature has become an epistemological challenge and major policy.

Louis Pasteur, a favorite of French scientists, said that "Life as manifested to us, is based on the asymmetry of the universe or its consequences", reflecting the omnipresence of this founding rivalry between symmetry and asymmetry, that this symposium will attempt to highlight. As before, these three days will be an opportunity for many stimulating cultural and scientific exchanges, exciting encounters and improbable conversations between researchers from very different fields.

The deadline to register is March 15, 2017. The one to submit an abstract is January 15, 2017.

Contact: Alexander Kuhn (kuhn @



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