Regeneration implies changeability and an idealised state to which one wishes to return (or improve upon) in the future. How might an anthropological approach to regeneration illuminate the human will to improve natural, human, spiritual, sacred, cultural or social phenomena?
Pat Barker's 1991 novel Regeneration is a fictional account of the recuperation of shell-shocked WWI soldiers at the Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh under the care of the anthropologist (and ethnologist, psychiatrist, and neurologist) WHR Rivers. Taking our inspiration from the novel's themes of trauma, injury, and healing, this panel examines anthropological approaches to regeneration. The concept of regeneration implies optimism through striving for improvement: rebirth, restoration, reformation, regrowth, reproduction, reconstitution, revival, recreation, and renaissance. It has been applied in relation to individual, sacred, social, cultural, and natural phenomena: human spirit, moral character, bodily parts, living conditions, architectural features, and plant species. The process of regeneration implies changeability and an idealised past state to which one wishes to return (or improve upon) in the future. How might an anthropological approach to regeneration illuminate the human will to improve: to uplift the human spirit, moral character, or social conditions; to repair damaged bodily organs or tissues; to restore degraded natural environments; or to revive communities through cultural heritage practices? And how might approaches to regeneration differ depending on whether these phenomena are considered 'natural', 'human', 'cultural', or 'social'? We invite papers on topics including (but not restricted to) death and the regeneration of life, spiritual rebirth, regenerative medicine, restoration ecology, sustainable development, cultural heritage, and urban regeneration.