SPECTRESS Workshop Report
Modalities of Trauma in (Multi)Cultural Contexts:
Protagonists, representations and re-coverings?
SpeCTReSS Summer Institute on Cultural Trauma
Dubrovnik, 5-10 June 2017.
Jointly organized by SPECTRESS project and the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb,
at the premises of the Inter University Center in Dubrovnik
Third SpeCTReSS Summer Institute on Cultural Trauma was held in Dubrovnik, with the purpose of widening our network, making plans for the future, as well as to extend our knowledge exchange and its dissemination to students and wider audience. It brought together 22 participants, 8 professors and 14 students from across the SPECTRESS partner institutions and other universities.
Participants were recruited from the University of Zagreb, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Sao Paulo University, Trinity College, Dublin, Tartu University, Jagiellonian University, American University in Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad, University of Sarajevo and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi.
Expected learning outcomes for students were:
– to get an introduction to the interdisciplinary knowledge on cultural trauma by focusing on various national and international case studies: its various manifestations, conditions of appearance and research methodologies of different social sciences and humanities in studying cultural trauma.
– to understand the role of agents, and social, political and cultural structures in the process of construction of cultural trauma, as well as to be able to apply that knowledge on the new cases and contexts, related to their own national and local contexts.
– to be able to create research design for studying chosen aspects of cultural trauma and their expression in various cultural and political texts.
– to be able to create informed policy recommendation and public dissemination of knowledge on cultural trauma.
The Workshop was opened by local organizer, prof. Nebojša Blanuša. He welcomed participants and remarked the importance of establishing such workshop on permanent basis even after the end of SpeCTReSS project. There is a permanent challenge to connect various scholars to improve our current knowledge on cultural trauma. Daily schedule of the workshop usually included two lectures of experienced researchers with extensive discussions. Afternoons were usually reserved for screening the films with direct reference to cultural trauma in concrete historical contexts.
On the first day, instead of usual introductory lecture, doctoral student Vedran Jerbić from the University of Zagreb made a presentation of recently published special issue of the Croatian Political Science Review, titled Faces of Cultural Trauma. This journal issue was comprised mostly of lectures given at the previous Summer Institute from 2016. It gathered 16 researchers from all around the world, who wrote 9 excellent original research articles. The issue was described as a collection resulting from speaking and listening at the site of trauma of Dubrovnik, which tries to overcome an isolation produced by the sense of uniqueness of particular traumas and to search for the knowledge of collective recovery in the current historical period. The second presentation was given by prof. Jaime Ginzburg, from the Sao Paulo University, titled Literature and film: images of violence, dealing with differences and similarities in means of representation of massive collective traumas, by using examples from Japan, Brazil and Ireland. In the afternoon, we also had a guided city tour, committed to the local war trauma and devastation of the historical center of the town of Dubrovnik during the Homeland war from 1991 to 1995.
On Tuesday the first lecture was given by prof. Tomislav Pletenac from the University of Zagreb, titled Representational re-victimization: How to write ethnography of genocide, focused exactly on the opposite of the title, or how to avoid secondary victimization by using the knowledge of ethnology and anthropology. Second lecture that day was held again by prof. Jaime Ginzburg, who spoke about the relationship between Narrative, language and trauma. In the afternoon, we also watched the film Rewers (2009), directed by Borys Lankosz, as an example of Polish cultural trauma from the Stalinist period, especially how to deal with enemies from the totalitarian past. The film was further explained in the next day lecture titled Popular perception of Polish People’s Republic during the Real Socialism: Cultural Trauma, Dissonance of the Legal System and the Lifeworld, held by prof. Marta Polaczek-Bigaj, from the Jagiellonian University. The second Wednesday lecture was reserved for our colleague Tihomir Cipek, from the University of Zagreb, titled The Image of the Other Among Russian Conservatives, which dealt with contemporary representational strategies of right wing groups with the special interest in combining the images and ideas from the period of soviet and czarist Russia. In the afternoon, we dealt with the film 12.08 East of Bucharest (2006), directed by Corneliu Porumboiu. This movie was an introduction for the first Thursday lecture, given by prof. Sean Homer, from the American University in Bulgaria, titled Was There, or, Was There Not a Revolution? Both the movie and the lecture were referring to the Romania, but this case was used as an example in the lecture to deal with the same problem in all post-socialist states, especially with the issue of traumatic legacy of 1989 in this part of the Europe. The second Thursday lecture was given by prof. Nebojša Blanuša, titled Transgenerational Trauma in Croatia. This lecture was dealing with the problem of ideological continuation of conflicts from the World War II in Croatia, and their manifestation in the last quarter of century, mostly in demonization of antifascist legacy and normalization of fascist quisling regime. In the afternoon we also watched and discussed documentary titled Zaveštanje / Legacy (2017), directed by Ivan Jović, which deals with testimonies of Serbs who were imprisoned as children in the Croatian World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac.
Friday was committed to lectures of prof. Ana Ljubojević, titled Contested narratives of Bleiburg case in the context of WWII remembrance in Croatia, dealing with the memory of controversial case of executions of quisling army members by Yugoslav partisans immediately after the end of the World War II. The second lecture was given by dr. Kosta Bovan, titled Cultural Trauma and Gestalt Psychotherapy – Unlikely Friends with Benefits?, which was a part of our special section dealing with bridging the gap between literature on individual and collective traumas. For the afternoon was organized the local trip to the town of Cavtat which was occupied by Montenegrian military forces during the Homeland war 1991-1995.
Students’ presentation were performed, discussed and evaluated on Saturday. Two months later this course was re-licensed by the University of Zagreb and entitled to give 3,5 ECTS to each student participant.
Report submitted by:
Nebojša Blanuša, Associate Professor,
Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb