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Emotion - Violence - Memory

The workshop explores the emotions in societies of past and present conflict and their role in remembering violence.


How do communities overcome and remember experiences of violence?

How do communities overcome and remember experiences of violence?

Organization: Birgitt Röttger-Rössler, Sina Emde, Victoria K. Sakti, Anne-Marie Reynaud

July 4th - 6th, 2012

This workshop invites contributions that explore how people in societies of past and ongoing conflict overcome, communicate and remember experiences of collective, political and gendered violence. It does so with a core focus on the emotions that are evoked, articulated and/or regulated in these processes. By bringing together scholars from different disciplines we aim to break new ground in the emerging field at the intersection of emotion, collective memory and violence.

Recent studies on memory have revealed the dynamics between the individual and the social, emphasizing how individual and collective memory is mutually constitutive. The individual enters the collective and the collective shapes what is individually remembered. While highlighting these processes as both psychological and social, the role of emotions in processes of collective memory has been underexplored. Yet, research over the last decades has shown that emotions as bio-cultural processes are pivotal aspects of social relations, often embedded in relations ofpower. They constitute political and social resources that are crucial for the constructionand reconstruction of communities.

We thus turn our attention to the linkages emotions articulate with various forms and practices of remembrance of violent experiences. Our vantage point is the assumption that all forms and acts of remembering are inseparable from emotions shaped by the social, cultural and political contexts in which they occur. This workshop discusses these processes and opens new avenues of thought.


Download complete program booklet with abstracts

Wednesday, July 4th

Keynote: Remembering as Recreating or the Afterlife of Violence (Veena Das)

Thursday, July 5th

Panel 1: Emotions and Remembering

This panel looks at the dynamic linkages between emotion and remembering violent experiences. It highlights the dialectical relationship between individual remembering and collective memory at places, spaces and sites of memory and the expression, emergence and regulation of emotions in these processes.

Panel Moderator: Birgitt Röttger-Rössler

  • Contextualizing Memories and Emotions in Everyday Conversations about Violent Pasts
    (Lucas Bietti, Institute for the Advanced Study in the Humanities, Essen)

  • Between Remembering and Forgetting: When, How and Why do Khmer Villagers Remember the Khmer Rouge Genocide?
    (Anne Yvonne Guillou, French National Centre for Scientific Research)

  • Being 'Scared of the Land': An Exploration of Place and Personhood in Independent Timor-Leste
    (Judith Bovensiepen, University of Kent, UK)

Panel 2: Emotions in Reconciliation and Healing

Mass violence does not only result in immense devastation and suffering but also in the breakdown of social relationships, trust and sense of normality in the affected communities. This panel discusses past and ongoing processes of reconciliation and healing by scrutinizing the role of emotions in impeding or enhancing disintegration or reintegration in groups.

Panel moderator: Antonius Robben

  • Reopening Emotional Barriers: Reconciliation and Healing at the Everyday Level in Post-Conflict Timor-Leste
    (Victoria K. Sakti, Cluster Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin)

  • Between Victimhood and Agency: Women Anfal Survivors in Kurdistan-Iraq
    (Karin Mlodoch, Haukari e.V. / Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin)

  • Reconciliation and Healing after Residential School in Canada: Emotions on Contested Algonquin Territory
    Anne-Marie Reynaud (Graduate School, Cluster Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin)

Panel 3: Emotions and Transitional Justice Mechanisms

Transitional justice endeavours have been applied in numerous conflict-affected countries in the world to deal with the aftermath of mass violence and human rights abuses in order to provide the foundations towards a peaceful future. This panel investigates how models of restorative and retributive justice address, evoke and regulate emotions for victims, perpetrators and their societies.

Panel Moderator: Esther Denzinger

  • Litigating the Past: Trauma and the Translation of Violence in a Canadian Residential School Trial
    (Carole Blackburn, University of British Columbia, Canada)

  • Three Values of Anger
    (Sonali Chakravarti, Wesleyan University, USA)

Friday, July 6th

Panel 4: Communicative Memory, State Narratives and the Politics of Emotion

This panel looks at conflicting discourses on memories of violence between the ruling power, civil society and the social groups excluded and or forgotten by hegemonic narratives and policies of remembrance. How emotions are integrated into state and local narratives of the past are of special interest in this discussion.

Panel Moderator: Thomas Stodulka

  • Affective Politics, Conflicting Narratives, and Gender Ideology among Officers, Guerrillas, and Searching Mothers in Post-Authoritarian Argentina
    (Antonius Robben, Utrecht University)

  • The Day of Tying Anger: Communicative Memory, State Narratives of Violence and the Politics of Emotion in Cambodia
    (Sina Emde, Cluster Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin)

  • Feelings of loss and humiliation: different dimensions of remembering the Khmer Rouge
    (Ute Luig, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin)

Panel 5: Emotions and Representations of Memory

How are memories of past collective violence represented and made tangible for others? This panel explores the complex relationships between the emotionality of memorials, exhibits and performativepractices (…) and the emotions they elicit. Furthermore, it explores the ethical realms surrounding these linkages.

Panel Moderator: Judith Albrecht

  • The Formalisation of Public Emotions in Rwandan Public Memory
    (Anna-Maria Brandstetter,  Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)

  • Curating Difficult Knowledge: The challenges for empathy in post-conflict Peru
    (Cynthia E. Milton, Université de Montréal)