W032
Processing trauma in (post-)conflict societies

Convenors:
Goran Dokic
Markus Hoehne (University of Leipzig)
Discussant:
Susie Kilshaw, Peter Loizos
Stream:
Workshops
Location:
102
Start time:
29 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:
4

Short abstract:

The workshop explores the medical and the socio-cultural aspects of trauma. It looks at the dynamics existing between medical practitioners, health systems and (inter-)national structures dealing with trauma, as well as how individuals process traumatic experiences within diverse cultures of trauma.

Long abstract:

'Trauma' is increasingly used to capture experiences of violence in (post-)conflict societies. Victims, survivors and perpetrators are most often diagnosed as suffering from 'post-traumatic stress disorder' (PTSD), but also Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) and other local manifestations. However, if science is viewed as rooted in a particular cultural tradition, the generalised applicability of its criteria becomes debatable. Against this backdrop, our workshop confronts trauma in its medical, social and cultural facets in two sessions. The first session 'medicalisations of trauma' addresses the relationships between local efforts of medical practitioners, health systems, and (inter-)national governing structures. In this dynamic, various actors negotiate experiences and discourses of trauma. Several stakeholders and discourses are involved in diagnosis and categorisation of illness, all of which exert influence on the newly emerging conceptualisations and formal systems of support. National health care systems, international aid organisations, branches of the international medical community as well as the local political landscape are all part of this interplay. The second session investigates how actors handle traumatic experiences within different 'cultures of trauma'. This notion emphasises that cultural variations are likely regarding the ways of dealing with events categorised as "traumatic" and that the social factor of massive traumatisation will additionally impinge on the processing of such experiences. The focus here is on expressions which are collectively accepted to form the basis of specific trauma narratives, but also on individuals whose accounts do not concur with dominant trauma discourses and who face marginalisation. Applicants are requested to indicate the session, to which they wish to contribute.