The International Interdisciplinary Conference “On Resilience” is co-organized by the the Emigration Museum in Gdynia, Poland, the School of International Relations and the Department of Central European Studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and the Pomeranian Academy in Słupsk, Poland, with the participation of the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” of the University of Warsaw.
It will take place on May 28-29, 2018 in Gdynia (Poland) and will provide the opportunity to present the current state of research on the concept of “resilience” in several fields: comparative literature, film studies, economics, medicine, psychology, history, and sports science, among others.
Prof. Sandra Bermann, Princeton University (Title TBA)
Prof. Geoffrey Clark, SUNY Potsdam, NY: The Iconography of Spiritual Resilience: The Lactation of St. Bernard and the Humanists
The etymological root of resilience is the Latin verb of “resilire”, to spring back, rebound. In his 1564 manual of mental and physical hygiene for the military, De bona militum valetudine conservanda liber, the Swiss physician and botanist Anton Schneeberger defined what we now call PTSD and described the possible ways of preparing for trauma and assuaging its effects. To heal sorrow and trauma, he recommends the use of story-telling, arguing that memory and hope are reconciled through the creation of an interpersonal narrative.
Four centuries later, the British psychologist D.W. Winnicott posited the space between an individual and society (the mother and the infant’s family first, and then the rest of society) as of great importance.It is precisely in that space that the ego organization takes place thanks to a process that he does not call resilience but that resembles it closely:
“The first ego organization comes from the experience of threats of annihilation which do not lead to annihilation and from which, repeatedly, there is recovery.” (Winnicott, 1956)
The French neuropsychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik defined resilience as the capacity to live and develop successfully in a socially acceptable manner despite stress or adversity that threatens to affect the person negatively. (Un merveilleux malheur, Paris: Odile Jacob, 1999). Understanding resilience as a process, Cyrulnik, too, connects the importance of memory to story-telling in the “knitting” of resilience:
“Resilience is not just something we find inside ourselves or in our environment. It is something we find midway between the two, because our individual development is always linked to our social development.”
In the biopsychosocial model of human development and functioning, resilience has its place on many levels and in many areas because resilience is the capacity to deal with change and continue to develop despite adversity both for individuals and systems. Architects talk about resilient human designs, ecologists about ecosystems resilience, the notion of resilience functions in economics and in epidemiology, as well as in organizational studies.
For the conference, we would like to solicit 20-minute papers on resilience in different contexts and within and across disciplines.Here are some of the possible areas of exploration:
• The Other in the process of resilience: In his early philosophical essays Art and Answerability (1919) Mikhail Bakhtin establishes the importance of the Other, mainly the mother — as if, avant la lettre and instead of the Lacan mirror stage he were positing ‘the Other stage’ that establishes a viable subject — and then the subsequent development is determined by that first I-You (cf. Buber). Bakhtin’s notion of inside-outsidedness (vnenakhadimost’) posits the necessity of the Other for both the establishment of self and for development and recovery.
• Memory and resilience: When does memory enable or aid resilience and when does it incapacitate it?Where can post-memory (Marianne Hirsch) be situated in relation to resilience? Or multidirectional memory (Michael Rothberg)?Possible cultural texts to consider here: museums, monuments, films (e.g. Alain Resnais’s and Margierite Duras’s Hiroshima mon amour, Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror), fiction and non-fiction narratives (e.g. Primo Levi, Henryk Grynberg, Philip Gourevitch, Svetlana Alexievich).
• History and resilience
Resilience maintained through an abiding historical awareness of a connection to nourishing traditions and sustaining identities, or despite denial; e.g. Ruth Linn’s Escaping Auschwitz: A Culture of Forgetting
• Resilience and politics: Resilience as a narrative in the creation of nationhood identities, but also resilience in “dark times”;
Bonnie Honig writes that “Although Hannah Arendt never uses the word, so far as I know, resilience is absolutely central to her thinking as well. All of her work is devoted to documenting the material–institutional–political conditions of resilience, a trait that makes us fit for worldliness and helps us survive the trials of “dark times.” Importantly, for our purposes, in Arendt as in Winnicott, resilience is a property of both persons and things.” (https://www.politicalconcepts.org/honig-resilience…)
• Resilience within the medical profession: The ability of doctors and other medical professionals to resist the strain of their profession – where does resilience come from in the medical profession, how is the balance of resilience achieved between doctors and patients, is resilience contagious? Transferrable? Inducible?In the U.S. the rate of doctors’ suicides has increased dramatically in the last years (the NIH considers is a public health crisis as a million patients lose their doctors to suicide each year).How can the resilience of those who are there to heal others be increased? The work of Atul Gawande, Jerome Groopman, Oliver Sacks, John Stone.
• Resilience in the face of war and terrorism: To have survived immediate acts of war is a particularly acute example of trauma. And yet Boris Cyrulnik himself was a witness and a victim of war as a child and emerged not only strong but eventually able to help others.The American Psychological Association’s guide to building resilience in times of war names building connections as the first point (e.g. Henryk Grynberg’s The Jewish War and Victory).
• Resilience, language, and translation: What makes a language resilient? What is the role of normative forces vs. natural ones? Is the resuscitation of Hebrew an example of resilience? The survival of Yiddish? How does the original text survive the change into another language? Eva Hoffman’s Life in Translation, Elias Canetti’s The Tongue Set Free, etc.
• Art, music, literature as modes of enhancing or enabling resilience: creativity can be an expression of trauma but can also be therapeutic; Hans Christian Andersen, Edward Stachura, Janusz Korczak, Ota Pavel’s Death of Beautiful Deer, Woodkid’s The Golden Age, Matuszyński’s The Last Family
• Resilience in emigration and exile: when living in a different
country does not break you – St. John Perse’s Exil, Witold Gombrowicz’s Diary, Henryk Grynberg’s Memoir, Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia,
• Old age and/or disability and resilience: how does resilience factor in when there are other issues at hand? Examples in literature: W.B. Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium,” Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” Sándor Márai, Diary,” Tove Jansson’s Sun City, Max Frisch Journal III, Imre Kertesz’s The Last Inn, Bille August’s film Song for Martin.
• Resilience in economics: sustainable development, socio-ecology, marine and coastal resilience.
Academic Advisory Committee:
Prof. Ruth Linn, Counseling and Human Development, University of Haifa, Israel
Prof. Katarzyna Jerzak, Modern Languages Institute, Pomeranian University in Slupsk, “Artes Liberales” University of Warsaw
Prof. Dimitrios Kargiotis, Comparative Literature, University of Ioannina,
Prof. Anne-Lise François, Comparative Literature and English, UC Berkeley
Prof. Jacek Zaucha, Economics Department, University of Gdańsk
Dr. Edoardo Pecchini, M.D., Psychiatrist, Italy
Prof. Jacek Sznurkowski, M.D., Ph.D., Surgical Oncology Department and Clinic, Medical University of Gdańsk
Katarzyna Jerzak, Pomeranian University in Słupsk/ “Artes Liberales” University of Warsaw
Magdalena Szpilman, “Artes Liberales” University of Warsaw
Jesse Sandoval, AngelPolitics Corporation
Klaudiusz Bobowski, Pomeranian University in Słupsk
Kleitia Vaso, Pomeranian University in Słupsk
Anna Paczos, Pomeranian University in Słupsk
Jora Vaso, Pomeranian University in Słupsk
Malwina Chelminiak, Pomeranian University in Słupsk
Bożenna Sucharska, Pomeranian University in Słupsk
Rafał Raczynski, Emigration Museum in Gdynia, Pomeranian University in Słupsk