Conference Highlights

A welcome reception will be held on the evening of the 5th for all conference participants.

Day One, Mark Solms in dialogue with Jessica Benjamin, Kimberly Leary, and Donna Orange. Mark Solms is professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Cape Town, a neuro-psychoanalyst and owner of a wine estate in Franschhoek, South Africa. When he inherited the family wine estate, he also inherited, flowing from apartheid laws, the farm workers who were descendants of slaves who had worked on the farm over more than three centuries. In his presentation, Mark Solms will present on his journey of dialogue with the workers on his wine estate, “digging the past” both literally in archeological terms in order to investigate the hidden history of the land he inherited, and to understand the wounds inflicted by his forebears. His aim was to chart a new path into the future. The result is remarkable: breaking down the apartheid divide and working alongside the descendants of slaves on his farm on a project of mutual benefit as co-owners of the successful wine estate Solms-Delta. The keynote panel, all experts on relational psychoanalysis with experience on initiatives of inter-group dialogue and/or researching issues related to engagement with the Other, will bring the best academic research and thinking and illuminate various aspects of Mark Solms’ engagement with the workers, which helped transform their lives and his relationship with them.

On Day Two Jean Decety and Akaterina Fotopoulou, whose expertise is in the field of neuroscience, will present the opening keynote panel. The two-person panel will reflect on the topic of empathy as an important element in overcoming intergroup hatred, prejudice or bigotry. Drawing insights from cutting-edge research, most of which is their own, this panel will engage in a dialogue between science and society, and provide a bridge between scholarship on social neuroscience on the one hand, and practical work on transforming relationships between individuals and groups on the other.

Day Two will also feature the Sigrid Rausing Roundtable Discussions/Dialogues, which are a signature of this international conference. Convened for the first time at the 2006 “TRC10” conference and sponsored by the Sigrid Rausing Trust, the hallmark of the roundtable discussions is creating learning and teaching communities, where people who are involved in research can learn from those who are often the subject of the research. Topics from the two previous conferences include presentations of accounts by survivors and/or family members of victims of their encounter with a person/s responsible for their trauma and suffering, and intergenerational presentations by survivors of mass violence and genocide from the Holocaust, Rwanda, South African and other historical contexts. This year’s Sigrid Rausing Dialogues will bring together scholars, practitioners and members of civil society from across the globe who have been or are involved as facilitators or participants in, and/or as researchers of initiatives of dialogues across different kinds of divides. Participating in this year’s roundtable discussions will be members of PAKH, the second-generation Jewish-German group of therapists and psychiatrists who have been in dialogue for more than ten years about the effects of the Holocaust in their personal and professional lives. Another group of participants will include practitioners who have been involved in facilitated dialogue between Israeli and Palestinians, Rwandan women from different sides of the genocide who cooperate on shared projects of mutual benefit, and engaged professionals involved in efforts to overcome the lasting legacies of discrimination and exclusion along the lines of race in the American south.

Day Three of the conference will feature keynote presentations and/or conversations on the enduring importance of the themes of the conference for education (Martha Nussbaum), breaking cycles of repetition in the aftermath of war through education and economic empowerment (Angelina Atyam and Marguerite Barankitse). Martha Nussbaum’s vision of transformative education is captured most poignantly in her book, Cultivating Humanity. Angelina Atyam won the United Nations Prize for Human Rights for her campaign for the return of children kidnapped by the militia in Uganda and for her advocacy for peace and reconciliation. Marguerite Barankitse won the Opus Prize, the UNESCO Prize, and the Conflict Prevention Prize for her work transforming the lives of Hutu and Tutsi children affected by war in Burundi.

An optional conference dinner will be organised on Friday 7 December. Details to be announced when conference registration is open.