The Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies is pleased to co-sponsor the upcoming graduate conference entitled The Future of Trauma and Memory Studies, which will take place April 11th-12th. To mark the occasion, University of Illinois graduate student, Priscilla Charrat, takes a look at the recent work of the conference’s keynote speaker, Stef Craps (Ghent University), and looks forward to his keynote presentation, “Trends in Trauma Theory.”
Stef Craps's 2014 MLA talk entitled "‘You call it disorder ... We call it life’: Postcolonial Trauma in Aminatta Forna's The Memory of Love" proposed an analysis of Forna's 2010 novel, which addresses Sierra Leone's eleven-year civil war and its aftermath. Craps's analysis, and its strength, lies undeniably in the unsettling premise that while war survivors can obviously be identified as vulnerable (vulnerability being the theme of the 2014 MLA convention), this vulnerability might not only come from the trauma of war, but also from the professional psychological help survivors receive from European psychologists. This help, Craps argues, might prove partly detrimental because it does not address the cultural specificity of the locus of trauma. The expected trauma-diagnosis-treatment-healing process is therefore disrupted by the inadequacy of the direct importation of Western psychology to a non-Western setting.
In the Q&A session following his talk, Craps insisted, however, that he does not want to essentialize Western and non-Western trauma, but rather advocates for a larger consideration of all types of trauma, including insidious trauma. He pointed out that insidious trauma could also happen in the West, and that event-based trauma happens in non-Western contexts. With this in mind, one might also want to consider further the interaction between event-based trauma and a context of structural trauma.
We are extremely excited to have Stef Craps as our keynote speaker at the upcoming graduate conference on The Future of Trauma and Memory Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. His keynote, “Trends in Trauma Theory,” will address recent turns in the field, such as globalization, de-aestheticization, perpetration and limitation. We look forward to the discussion his talk will inspire as well as the work by graduate students to be presented throughout the conference.
For a full schedule of The Future of Trauma and Memory conference, you can find the conference’s webpage here.