Global Humanities Institute 2019: Crises of Democracy through the Prism of Cultural Trauma

July 15-24, 2019
Dubrovnik, Croatia

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What is it in today’s world that is making populist and authoritarian approaches to government more attractive than democratic ones?

Crises of democracy do not arise out of nowhere. Countries that presently find their political systems in crisis can in most cases find causes by looking back to specific times, events and experiences in the collective lives of the culture. By turning to the past, they can determine conditions and patterns of responses and influences that have contributed to current crises. 

One construct that has proven particularly useful in tracing these crises to their roots has been that of cultural trauma.  Developed as a concept by the Yale University Centre for Cultural Sociology, the theory of cultural trauma is related to, but also differs from, the study of individual trauma, in that it focuses on shocks to the collective tissue of a society.  Examples of events that both induce and respond to cultural trauma, and that thereby produce crises in democracy,  include:  racialized  persecution, violence and forced displacement;  war and genocide;  colonialism and decolonization; nationalism, ethnocentrism and revisionist interpretations of national heroic traditions;  terrorism,  fundamentalism and distorted nationalism; revolution; radical economic change, and market collapse; climate disaster, demographic shifts and more.

Inter-University Centre overlooking Dubrovnik West Harbour
This CHCI-Mellon Global Humanities Institute (GHI) will examine the crises of democracy through the prism of cultural trauma in a comparative global perspective. It will take place from 15 - 24th July 2019, at the Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik, Croatia and will be open to 20 graduate students and emerging scholars. A distinctive feature of the summer institute will be the inclusion and active participation of those early career scholars in the workshops. The curriculum also builds in concrete channels to ensure the engagement of actors from academic and non-academic sectors. It will develop a contemporary frame of reference, incorporating relevant site visits into the Global Humanities Institute programme, for example to Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Mostar, and Belfast. Following the summer institute, there will be a meeting in Rio de Janeiro of the GHI partner institutions to reflect on the key learnings of the GHI and to follow up on publication plans, further funding applications, and how the learnings can be embedded in each institution.

Outcomes

View of the Stari Most (Old Bridge) of the city of Mostar
The outcomes of the CHCI-Mellon Crises of Democracy Global Humanities Institute will be manifold. The readings, research, and findings will be made available to the public online as a free resource accessible long after the Institute. In parallel with the objectives listed above, the outcomes of the GHI are as follows:

  1. Creation of an online open syllabus.
  2. The publication of a book or special journal edition.
  3. A documentary on the research group and process, sharing the experience, through the filming and creation of a documentary and an online blog.
  4. Knowledge and skills transfer in an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary environment.

Convening centers and organizers

GHI conveners at the Trinity Long Room Hub in May 2018
The CHCI-Mellon Crises of Democracy Global Humanities Institute will be delivered by a seasoned collaborative consortium of humanities scholars affiliated with centers, institutes, and universities spanning four continents (North and South America, Europe and Asia): 

This group of scholars represent a range of disciplines, including but not limited to: anthropology, cultural studies, film and audio-visual arts, gender studies, history, journalism, law, languages, literatures, psychology, political science, peace studies, theatre studies, and the creative and performing arts.

Professor Jane Ohlmeyer
Trinity College Dublin
Professor Balázs Apor
Trinity College Dublin
Professor Rosemary Byrne
Trinity College Dublin
Professor Mary Cosgrove
Trinity College Dublin
Professor Jennifer Edmund
Trinity College Dublin
Professor Esther Hamburger
University of São Paulo
Professor Laura Izarra
University of São Paulo
Professor Arlene Clemesha
University of São Paulo
Professor Sucheta Mahajan
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Professor Aditya Mukherjee
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Professor Mridula Mukherjee
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Professor Bodh Prakash
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Professor Urmimala Sarkar
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Professor Nebojša Blanuša
University of Zagreb
Professor Tomislav Pletenac
University of Zagreb
Professor Eileen Gillooly
Columbia University
Professor Stephanie McCurry
Columbia University
Professor Bruce Shapiro
Columbia University
Professor Marianne Hirsch
Columbia University

Call for participants

The conveners will select up to twenty participants for the summer institute in Dubrovnik. Each institution will nominate two researchers to attend the summer institute. In addition to this, there are up to eight places open to early career researchers in any member CHCI institution. The Call for Participants (CFP) and application form are found here. The deadline for applications has been extended to the 13th of October 2018. We will notify all applicants of the outcome of their application in early December 2018.