Anthony Giddens has observed that the failure of scholars to come to terms with the meaning of violence and war constitutes “one of the most extraordinary blank spots in social theory in the twentieth century.” This is an astonishing lacuna. War is a central institution in the history of civilization. World War I and World War II were the defining events of the 20th century. Just when it seemed that we were moving toward a globalized existence, we have been thrown once again into a world dominated by ideologies of violence.
War has caused monumental devastation and suffering. Yet, despite its awful consequences, the institution of warfare is taken for granted as a fact of life. What is the nature of those desires and anxieties that fuel enthusiasm for war, compelling us to embrace it in spite of the invariable misery it creates and the disillusionment that follows in its wake?
The symposium will be both a workshop and a seminar, gathering scholars and professionals from the fields of psychology, psychiatry, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, literature, military studies and religious studies to address the meaning and consequences of the human propensity to die and kill in the name of political and religious ideologies.
The following questions will serve a springboard for analyzing violence, war, genocide, terrorism, and hatred as socially organized phenomena:
(1) What psychological and cultural mechanisms underlie socially sanctioned, collective forms of violence, transforming killing into a moral act?
(2) What is the relationship between violence and “sacrifice?” Why are human beings willing to die in the name of reified objects with which they identify?
This symposium seeks presenters and others interested in participating in an intensive dialogue about various types of violence, the similarities and differences among them, and methodologies for analyzing them.
Possible topics for presentation include:
Linguistic and metaphorical aspects of political speech that generate violence
Psychoanalytic approaches to the dynamics of violence
The role of “basic training” as preparation for sacrifice
Anthropological and cross-cultural studies of war
Ideological and religious doctrines as the source of violence
Similarities and differences between war, genocide and terrorism
War and gender
War, death and memorialization
To present, please provide the titles of your talk plus a 150 word abstract of your presentation before November 15, 2003. Others wishing to attend please provide a brief statement of about 150 words indicating why you wish to participate and how you hope to contribute.
Please e-mail your proposals or send by FAX.
For further information please contact the Symposium Director, Jay Bernstein, Ph.D., by phone.
Jay Bernstein, Ph.D.
Library of Social Science
92-30 56th Ave., Suite 3E
Elmhurst, NY 11373
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