7th Global Conference: Forgiveness (July 2014: Oxford, United Kingdom)

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Rob Fisher/ Inter-Disciplinary.Net

7th Global Conference: Forgiveness

Wednesday 9th July – Friday 11th July 2014, Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations
Mahatma Gandhi said that 'the weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.' It is usually held that Forgiveness is a process (or the result of a process) that involves a change in emotion and attitude regarding an offender. Some scholars view this as an intentional and voluntary process, driven by a deliberate decision to forgive. The process results in decreased motivation to retaliate or maintain estrangement from an offender despite his or her actions, and requires a deliberate — or as Gandhi put it, 'strong' — letting go of negative emotions toward the offender. Theorists differ in the extent to which they believe forgiveness also implies replacing the negative emotions with positive attitudes including benevolence and compassion. There also differ on these questions: When, if ever, should hatred or a need for revenge be overcome by sympathy or compassion? What are forgiveness and mercy and to what degree do they require — both conceptually and morally — the overcoming of certain passions and the motivation by other passions? If forgiveness and mercy indeed are moral virtues, what role, if any, should they play in the law? Does that mean that vengeful motives are out of place in seeking justice for real wrongs? Should the law attempt to exclude vengeance-seeking? Do some economic or political systems tolerate, or even require, elaborate systems of revenge? How do these ideas mesh with concepts of forgiveness? Given all this, is it even possible to come up with a universally relevant concept of forgiveness and revenge that would make comparison possible?

This interdisciplinary conference project seeks to investigate and explore the nature, significance, and practices of forgiveness, and where applicable, related ideas of revenge. Forgiveness (and with it the concept of revenge) raises a variety of questions that touch on a vast array of academic disciplines — anthropology, psychoanalysis, literature, history, philosophy, psychology, political economy, etc. In cases of significant transgressions, social tensions, and even international conflicts there are questions of what counts as forgiveness and how it moves from the level of individual to community, national and international relationships. This conference will examine full range of this complexity. To encourage innovative trans-disciplinary dialogues, we welcome papers from all disciplines, professions, and vocations.

Proposals, presentations, papers, performances, reports and workshops are invited on issues on or broadly related to any of the following themes:

1. Questions of Definition
~ What is forgivenesss
-Are all definitions of forgiveness culturally relative? When or how is it possible to speak of it in universal terms?
~ What sorts of behaviour require people to seek forgiveness?
~ Who can grant forgiveness? Can there be meaningful third party forgiveness?
~ Who benefits from forgiveness and how?
~ Can forgiveness be required of someone? Can it ever be wrong to offer forgiveness?
~ Can we forgive an ongoing evil?
~If forgiveness is required, what exactly is vengeance?

2. Psychological Perspectives
~ The emotional effect of victimization and the role forgiveness can play in either exacerbating or mitigating such feelings
~ The nature of self-forgiveness
~ Barriers to people's ability to forgive transgressors
~ How a willingness (or unwillingness) to forgive can be a measure of self-worth or self-respect
~ What happens after the forgiveness is granted?
~The concept of vengeance or revenge and its impact on the need for forgiveness

3. Legal and Political Perspectives
~ Forgiveness for past crimes of individuals — rehabilitation, second chances, and pardons
~ How forgiveness can play a role in criminal legal proceedings
~ Is there is Marxist notion of forgiveness?
~ Forgiveness as a part of social reconstruction following civil wars or systematic social injustices
~ How forgiveness can be required or granted in relationships between nations
~ Seeking forgiveness on behalf of others: righting historic wrongs
~ Difficulties connected with political forgiveness: collectiveness, performative meaning of forgiveness declarations, etc.

4. Social, Cultural and Literary Perspectives
~ The role forgiveness plays in different cultures
~ Differences in perceptions of the importance of forgiveness in different societies
~ Forgiveness ceremonies as important cultural practices
~ How questions of forgiveness are used in literature
~ Forgiveness in cinema, film, tv, radio and theatre
~ The role of the arts as catalyst or hindrance for actual cases of forgiveness
~ Forgiveness and the media

5. Religion and Forgiveness
~ Distinctions between secular and religious notions of forgiveness
~ The role of forgiveness in religious practices
~ How religious beliefs can promote forgiveness
~ How religions can be barriers to forgiveness
~ Rituals of forgiveness and their importance

6. Issues, Connections and Relations
- The relationship between forgiveness and restitution
- The relationship between forgiveness and retribution
- The relationship between forgiveness and compassion, mercy or pity
- The relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation
- The relationship between forgiveness and personal growth
~The relationship between forgiveness and revenge

The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals.

In order to support and encourage interdisciplinarity engagement, it is our intention to create the possibility of starting dialogues between the parallel events running during this conference. Delegates are welcome to attend up to two sessions in each of the concurrent conferences. We also propose to produce cross-over sessions between these groups – and we welcome proposals which deal with the relationship between Forgiveness and Revenge and Sacred Journeys.

What to Send
Proposals will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday 14th February 2014. If an proposal is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of no more than 3000 words should be submitted by Friday 16th May 2014. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: FOR7 Proposal Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Joint Organising Chairs:

Sheila Bibb: scbibb@inter-disciplinary.net
Rob Fisher: for7@inter-disciplinary.net

The conference is part of the Probing the Boundaries programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.