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The Intrinsic Value and Healing Power of Autobiographic Narratives

The Intrinsic Value and Healing Power of Autobiographic Narratives



*The (Im)Possibilities of Bearing Witness:*


*The Intrinsic Value and Healing Power of Autobiographic Narratives*


carpentier nico nico.carpentier@vub.ac.be via commlist.org



Thu, Sep 10, 3:24 PM (23 hours ago)



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*The (Im)Possibilities of Bearing Witness:*


*The Intrinsic Value and Healing Power of Autobiographic Narratives*


The Witnessing Working Group of the Memory Studies Association (MSA) is


organizing a roundtable during the forthcoming MSA annual conference in


Warsaw, Poland, July 5-9, 2021. Due to Covid-19, virtual participation


will be possible. This roundtable will discuss the role of the


researcher and the ways in which his/her testimony with traumatic


experiences influences the course of research, but also the way in which


the individual traumatic experiences of the researcher affect his/her


trauma research methodology and narratives produced. Besides that, we


would like to explore ways through which witness testimonies can


influence researchers and ordinary readers and if (and to what extent)


such testimonies may help post-trauma healing and recovery.


According to the psychiatrist Dori Laub, a victim needs the presence of


a witness (an empathetic listener or reader), to confront the darkness


of painful memories and to organize and process traumatic experiences.


"'Arousers' of memories" helpedHolocaust survivor Primo Levi (1990)


describe the horrors of Auschwitz and discover meaning in writing and


literature. For him, the true witness is the one who does not survive.


Hence the survivor bears the responsibility to speak for those who


cannot speak, or to serve as a "moral witness," to testify with a "moral


purpose" (Margalit, 2002, 149). Often researchers are put in the


position of the (moral) witness while investigating the impact of


traumatic events. How does such implied moral purpose influence the


scholarly endeavors? And how does the arousal of the scholar's own


memories in the process of witnessing shape the course of the research


conducted? Can a researcher turn into "a witness to himself"/herself


(Laub, 1991, 58), potentially working through his/her own traumatic past


while witnessing the trauma of others? And how can such self-reflections


and self-explorations—of the survivor and/or researcher—be productively


integrated into scholarly writings, possibly exploring paths of healing,


which reach a wider audience than the ivory tower of academia?


This roundtable is meant as a forum for researchers from various


academic fields (including but not limited to anthropology, history,


psychology as well as literary, film and media studies). We seek papers


of 10 minutes length allowing for an extended discussion.Please submit a


paper proposal (not exceeding 250 words) in addition to a short bio (no


longer than 200 words including pertinent publications) via e-mail to


Alma Jeftic (alma.jeftic@gmail.com ) and


Stefanie Hofer (hofer@vt.edu ) *by October 2,


2020*. Please note that we aim to submit panels to the organising


committee of the Memory Studies Association *by 15^th October 2020* and


the final decision will depend on this committee. As in previous years,


all presenters have to be members of MSA.


For more information please consult MSA webpage:


https://www.memorystudiesassociation.org/warsaw-conference-2021-cfp/



Proposals not limited to the following topics are invited:


-How can traumatic narratives in scholarship be represented to


adequately reflect the suffering of the victim?


-(Im)possibilities of bearing witness and how to be addressed in


qualitative research?


-Witnessing and the dangers of appropriation


-The overwhelming nature of autobiographical narratives


-The healing power of trauma narratives


-Cultural representations of trauma and recovery as catharses


-(Moral) witnessing and activism


-Postcolonial witnessing and non-Western healing paradigms





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