International Roundtable I. Legacies of Dehumanization: A Transnational Perspective

The international Roundtable on “Legacies of Dehumanisation: A Transnational Perspective” took place on July 13-14, 2020.

This international Roundtable was the first of a series of scholarly discussions that seek to examine the concept of dehumanisation in the context of historical trauma and memory in post-Soviet Russia and in post-apartheid South Africa as an area of strategic scholarly reflection across disciplinary, institutional and national boundaries. An important objective of the series is to provide space for intellectual dialogue and to foster creative collaboration and research partnerships with a strong focus on the Global South and Russia. Co-hosted by the Financial University under the Government of Russia, Historical Trauma and Transformation, Stellenbosch University, and the Institute for the Academic Study of Eastern Christianity (INaSEC), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Roundtable series is part of the Russia-South Africa Bilateral collaboration jointly funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research and the South African National Foundation. 

What is dehuhumanisation? How do experiences of trauma remain salient long after the original trauma occurred? What are the factors that sustain the memories of these experiences? How are the dehumanising aspects of the trauma experienced and what meanings are constructed from these experiences? How are these meanings reconstructed and passed on transgenerationally? In order to address these questions, we have to engage multiple levels of analysis, including on the societal, community and individual levels, because they are intertwined and mutually reinforcing. By adopting this multifaceted approach, we seek to widen the lens through which we investigate the legacies of dehumanisation trauma, and to open up space for interdisciplinary connection among history, psychology, theology, philosophy, the arts, and other disciplines. In doing so, we are conscious of the fact that in our research in South Africa and Russia we will encounter not only stories of memory of suffering from what Maria Grazia Riva (2013) refers to as violations to human dignity–the “living ghosts” of daily traumas–but also stories of restoration of dignity in spite of the dehumanising past.

Take a look at the programme and the speakers of this international roundtable.