On Political Violence: Transgenerational Trauma and forced migration in Arab and German Societies from an Interdisciplinary Perspective
Winter School in Cologne
On Political Violence
The unexpected outbreak of protests, uprisings and revolutions in 2011 ("Arab Spring") with their call for freedom, dignity and social justice in a number of Arab countries has produced radical social and political changes that were often accompanied by extremely violent events and situations. After high hopes for democratic change and a more just society, especially among Arab youth, these expectations have been - in various forms and degrees - dramatically shattered by the subsequent reemergence of authoritarianism, the outbreak of (proxy) civil wars, violent social conflicts, and other forms of an ongoing social, economic and political crisis. In the case of Syria and Iraq, but also in the case of Yemen and Libya, this has caused a refugee crisis of extreme dimensions probably never experienced before in the Arab region. Being among the countries that welcomed large numbers of refugees from neighboring countries, Jordan is still struggling with the challenge to organize the life of hundreds of thousands human beings fleeing their home country, while the reception of refugees by Germany has led to problematic reactions and conflictual discussions in politics and society. In Germany, this has not only made visible xenophobic tendencies, but also a general deficiency in a number of policy areas like e.g. housing. The social relevance of trauma in Germany can mainly be found in the attempt to deal with an extremely violent past produced by two world wars (1914-18 and 1939-45) as well as dictatorship and political oppression in East Germany (1949-1990). The dynamics of transgenerational trauma have become - both in psychotherapy and cultural production - increasingly relevant since the Eighties and Nineties. In addition to the belated confrontation with transgenerational forms of trauma in Germany, discourses on trauma are also fostered by the mediatized perception of terror. While some societies like the US, Germany or Argentine might overemphasize the notion of trauma in societal discourse, producing what has been called a "trauma culture" (A. Kaplan), other societies only recently adopted a perspective on the effects of forms of political violence that is framed by trauma.
Department of Sociology and Social Service, Yarmouk University
Dr. Ayat Nashwan
Department of Oriental Studies, University of Cologne
Dr. Stephan Milich
The project is funded by the DAAD within the program line German-Arab short-term measures with partner universities in Tunisia, Yemen, Morocco, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.