International Seminar on Exploring Trauma: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (January 28-29, 2016)

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Department of English, University of Gour Banga, West Bengal, India

Trauma Studies is a unique interdisciplinary platform that has acquired a prominent place in contemporary academic studies in the context of increasing visibility of violence in various spheres of human experience. It addresses socio-political issues of immense practical importance. While on the one hand it has been enriched by inputs from researches in different academic disciplines like history, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, women's studies, ethnic studies, law and literature, it has also been strengthened and updated by sustained movements initiated by activist groups of different hues. Etymologically, 'trauma' means physical wounds but it has gradually absorbed the meaning of psychological wounds as well. So Trauma Studies explores comprehensively the 'worlds of hurt'. Intricately complex natures of traumatic experiences resist simplistic interpretations. Trauma is a "breach in the mind's experience of time, self, and the world". 'Traumatic neurosis' as a belated experience is vulnerable to 'repetition compulsion'. This triggers a long, even life-spanning, experience of suffering which requires understanding, care, professional counseling and even medication.
Trauma Studies, as Michael Rothberg asserts, does not begin from "the expansion of Holocaust consciousness or the context of post-Vietnam America" (Preface, The Future of Trauma Theory, ed. Gert Buelens et al). Although the above-mentioned historical events, and later the 9/11, foregrounded their widespread impact on individual minds and collective psyche, an exclusive focus on them will create a truncated Western-centric perspective. Trauma as an experience is not confined to a specific time and space. It may be manifest in the sufferings of a mass rape victim like Mukhtar Mai, or in the survivors or dependents of the victims of Tianjin explosions of 2015 in China or in any act of violence that 'has been or may be again'.
The contemporary postmodern reality that is ever threatened by the AIDS pandemic, the terror alert, war, genocide, human trafficking, environmental degradation and socio-cultural fragmentations of all kinds demand an adequate attention to Trauma Studies and what better field to analyze and assess the role and relevance of trauma than the discursive realms of theory, literature and culture? Since Trauma theories are basically Western-centric in formulations and exemplifications, the proposed seminar will try to 'de-provincialise' the perspectives; for "trauma study explores the relation of words and wounds. Its main focus is on words that wound, and presumably can be healed, if at all, by further words across the boundaries of time and space". It seeks to give as much prominence to non-Western discourses, literary and cultural representations, and case studies as to their Western counterparts. It will try to focus on how 'different fields and methodologies of inquiry' can help Trauma Studies to develop so that it can 'address mutations of power and the conditions of life' which appear most conspicuously in recent times. In short, the purpose of the seminar is to explore 'trauma' from new perspectives and with diverse methodologies.
The proposed inter-disciplinary seminar may address the following issues:
1. Trauma: Theories and Concepts
2. History and Memory: Communalism, Extremism, Holocaust, Partition, Regionalism, Terrorism
3. Power, Testimonies, and Survivors' Narratives
4. Women, Domestic Violence, and Rape
5. Marriage, Pregnancy, and Motherhood
6. Gender and Sexuality
7. Identity and Violence: Apartheid, Segregation, Casteism
8. The Environment: Pollution, Global Warming, and the Climate Change
9. Disaster, Disease, and Disability
10. Displacement, Disorientation and Disintegration: Migration, Human Trafficking, Exile
11. Trauma: Rescue, Rehabilitation and Counseling

For Further Details please contact

Dr. Amit Bhattacharya
Associate Professor and Head
Department of English
University of Goru Banga
mob. +91-9434327525
Official Website: