Accepted Paper:

Packing the Past to Anticipate the Future: The Science of Resilience Post-War Communities  


Kelly Moore (Loyola University Chicago)
Nathalia Hernandez Vidal (LUC)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the temporal logics of the psychological science of resilience, which teaches participants to develop a set of ongoing actions on memory and body in which future suffering is anticipated, and past harms cannot be laid to rest.

Paper long abstract:

Aid agencies, community organizations, and clinicians increasingly rely on the cognitive and psychological science of resilience to assist people who have experienced interpersonal violence, disaster, war, and other deeply disturbing events. In earlier eras, psychological sciences organized around repression, which encouraged people to leave experiences in a particular temporal position: the past. This paper investigates how contemporary psychological sciences of civilian wartime trauma reorganize temporality and suffering. Neurosciences and clinical tests are used to show that those who have experienced serious harms will continue to be haunted them in the future, and that they can expect more harms to come. They thus disrupt older temporal logics build into the psychological science of repression. "Recovering"—that is, living in the present rather than experiencing the endless looping of the experience—is not intended to result repose or closure, but rather, to engage people in continual actions of overcoming. Practices of overcoming can be used, again and again, to face the anticipated problems of the future, and to incorporate experiences along the way. Anticipating the future is not therefore a practice of open-ended speculation, imagination, or the possibility of disappearances of trauma, but an expectation of bringing packaged pasts forward as projects of continued management. These temporal orderings and disorderings soothe, constrain speculative futures, and limit the use of pasts as never-to-repeated or sources of unknown imaginaries and speculations. The temporalities of "resilience" for civilians who have experience war are thus both potentially comforting, and deeply disruptive of the imaginaries of the future.

Panel T028
Futures in the making and re-making