4th Global Conference: Making Sense of:Suffering (November 2013: Athens, Greece)

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

4th Global Conference
Making Sense of:Suffering

Sunday 10th November 2013 – Tuesday 12th November 2013
Athens, Greece

Call for Presentations
This inter- and multi-disciplinary conference seeks to explore if, or to what extent, meaning can be found in suffering. During the course of living our lives, we are invariably forced to stop and question why we suffer – be it through illness, pain, loss, grief or the multitude of distressing circumstances which we encounter. Problems arise in a variety of contexts and due to a bewildering variety of conditions. And because our lives are constant streams of experience, the nature of suffering and consequently the "meaning" of such suffering continually varies and changes.

The conference aims to raise and assess a variety of questions related to the nature of suffering, the origins of suffering, the meaning of suffering, explanations for suffering and responding to suffering. Papers, presentations and pre-formed panels are invited on any of the following themes identified below.

Given the location of this year's conference, an additional key theme in our proceedings will involve the notion of "voluntary" or "purposeful" suffering. Since the dawn of ancient Greece, the notion that a hero's journey must involve suffering, and ultimately, the experience of mortality, has been a fundamental motif. Along life's journey, the hero must confront and endure powerlessness, meaninglessness, affliction, and alienation (whether it be physical, psychological and/or social) during his/her experiences of suffering. Sometimes this journey is "world-destroying." Other times, suffering that may appear sadistic or masochistic to outside observers, may indeed be experienced as efficacious, essential to certain fundamental insights, and/or instructive for key rites of passage. As a result, this conference, in addition to welcoming papers aligned to themes listed below, solicits submissions that explore common explanations of the "problem" of suffering, the substance of "heroic" suffering, and the limitations, dangers, and potentially heroic strengths of certain interpretations of suffering.

Submissions in the form of papers, presentations, performances and pre-formed panels are invited on any of the following additional core conference themes listed below:

I. What is Suffering?
•Defining 'suffering'. What is 'suffering'? How do we approach 'suffering'?
•Is suffering unique or exclusive to human beings?
•Non-human suffering
•Categories of suffering. Suffering as – a problem; a condition; an expression; an experience; a position of powerlessness; a consequence of meaninglessness; a result of affliction.

II. The Roots of Suffering
•The origins of suffering
•Suffering as universal; as international; as national; as local; as particular
•Suffering and history
•The contexts and conditions of suffering
•Producing suffering

III. The Meaning of Suffering
•Suffering and meaning
•Suffering and language
•What is at stake when dealing with suffering?
•The 'limits' of suffering
•The dangers of suffering

IV. Explaining Suffering
•Suffering and explanation
•Theories of suffering: the work of the disciplines
•Theories of suffering: the work of the professions
•Theories of suffering: the work of the vocations
•Silence and suffering

V. Suffering and Practice
•Suffering, apathy and indifference
•Alleviating suffering
•Practices causing, prolonging, truncating, overcoming, relieving or resolving suffering
•Suffering, hope and despair

VI. Suffering and Religion
•Suffering from the perspective of religious traditions
•Suffering and sacred texts
•Portraits of suffering and sufferers
•Suffering and 'redemption'
•Suffering and atheism

VII. Representing Suffering
•Suffering and representation
•Suffering in literature
•Suffering in the media
•Suffering in tv, film, theatre and radio
•Suffering in cybercultures

VIII. Confronting Suffering
•Meaning, suffering and action
•Overcoming suffering
•Should suffering be overcome?
•Case studies
•Practice(s), resolution(s), settlement

Papers will be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 14th June 2013 If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 13th September 2013

What to Send
300 word abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords
E-mails should be entitled: Suffering4 Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper 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.

Organising Chairs

Nate Hinerman: nphinerman@usfca.edu
Rob Fisher: suffer4@inter-disciplinary.net

The conference is part of the Making Sense Of: series of research projects, which in turn belong to the Probing the Boundaries programmes of Inter-Disciplinary.Net. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore discussions which are innovative and challenging. All papers accepted for and presented at this conference are eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into a themed ISBN hard copy volume.

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.