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Day One

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Welcome and introduction to the conference

Dr. Kathrin Pabst

Inheritance of experiences of trauma and violence, and how trauma and resilience cross generations

Prof. Dr.Thomas Elbert

Survivors often remain stuck in the traumatic experiences, i.e. they locate their memories as threats in the here and now. This causes constant post-traumatic stress and with it PTSD. Continuous stressors - real or perceived through intrusions - modify the elite unit of the human defence system. Continued mental illnesses as well as physical disorders such as diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular problems are possible consequences. Altered gene expression changes in particular in the regulatory systems (brain, immune system, hormonal regulation). The epigenetic mechanisms that control these processes can be carried over to subsequent generations. Stressful environmental experiences of parents and grandparents thus affect the phenotypes of children and grandchildren, even if they never met their ancestors. In addition to massive impairments, there are also adjustments to stressful and violent environments, which can be adaptive for the descendants, but are then usually disadvantageous for peaceful environments. Psychotherapy, such as narrative exposure therapy (NET) has been shown to induce epigenetic changes.

How NET can be adjusted for museum work, how to approach the informants and why the work can contribute to healing

PD Dr. Maggie Schauer

Even worse than horror suffered is its denial. The Unspoken must be put in words, must be documented, to allow healing, reconciliation and peace. Narrative exposure therapy (NET) is an evidence-based, culturally inclusive intervention that maps an individual’s autobiographical account of major life experiences, especially those that are potentially traumatizing. Healing the wounds of trauma, NET also goes further to document human rights abuses, empowering survivors with means to combat the often systemic violence to which they were subjected.

Intergenerational Trauma, Settler Colonial Genocide and Residential Schools in Canada

Dr. Tricia Logan

Settler Colonial Genocide in Canada has carried on systematically through church, government and corporate structures for over five-hundred years. It takes many different forms and occupies a number of inter-related systems through social, political and economic structures and ideologies. In Canada, there is deserved and focused attention especially, on the systematic, intergenerational violence of the Indian residential schools, forced relocations, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the child welfare system. In the residential school system alone, the schools operated in Canada for over 150 years and the last one closed in 1996. Some former students and survivors had three, four or five generations of their family attend the schools. The schools have become notorious in Canada for perpetrating high rates of physical and sexual abuse, student death, neglect and forced removal of language and culture. First Nations, Métis and Inuit nations across Canada have been living with serious economic, social, mental, physical and spiritual impacts of intergenerational trauma and the schools since the 1800s or arguably well before that time. It has also been the survivors of the schools, community Elders, knowledge holders and teachers who have simultaneously led movements for intergenerational healing and resurgence. This presentation will discuss both the legacies of intergenerational trauma in Indigenous communities in Canada and how Indigenous peoples have led healing movements to address the impacts of the trauma in their own kinship relationships and their communities.

Day Two

Friday, March 18, 2022

Telling the story of traumatised communities: An introduction to NETfacts

Dr. Katy Robjant

What can communities and society learn from traumatic stories to enable them to recover from human rights atrocities? Whose stories do we want to hear and what preconceptions do we have about them? Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) allows the survivor to heal from the traumatic wounds of the past at the same time as giving testimony to the violence suffered. However, if these stories never leave the therapy room the impacted community cannot recover. Taboo and stigma ensure a cycle of secrecy, allowing incomplete perceptions to form that do not include the traumatic details of the events. Without these, the true stories can never be known. In our new approach, NETfacts, we share the testimonies of survivors who have experienced the same events but with different ‘roles’; perhaps as survivor, witness, perpetrator, or (more often) in combination.
Through this approach we ensure that the full ‘facts’ can be shared and understood, and that the community and wider society can bear witness, protect, and heal. This process will be elaborated through discussion of its application to a conflict affected community in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

12:00 – 12:50 - Lecture 5

The mind at war

M.D. Paolo Fonda

A war mindset in humans seems to coincide with the Melanie Klein’s Paranoid-Schizoid position (PS), to which groups in war regress. The 20th century was the bloodiest century in recorded history and its enormous traumas have gathered and overloaded humanity. This traumatic legacy included what victims have suffered, but also unbearable feelings of those who killed other humans and the voids left in the group fabric by millions of deads. Unworked through war traumas with such contents of death and destruction, that affected individuals as well as groups-nations, lie split and silently stored in the minds of millions of individuals, constituting fragments of a group ”secret parallel life”. They spread throughout the psychism of the group, where “mine, yours, his” all blend into “ours”. With their vibrations they form a background soundtrack of the group's mental life.
This legacy is unconsciously transferred to the following generations. Each of them is committed to elaborate and disactivate a part of this disturbing contents, which should become conscious, be elaborated and at the end stored in the archives of humanity. Only in parallel with this becomes possible true reconciliations among groups, among individuals, as well as among conflicting parts of individual inner worlds.

13:00 – 13:50 - Lecture 6 - Will Be Presented In Norwegian

The Past, The Now And The Future - Collective Trauma Among Minorities, Exemplified By Sami Minority

Elisabeth Gerhardsen

How historical trauma still affects the Sami population, and how today's challenges are related to days and past incidents – on an individual and societal level. This lecture will address the consequences of not knowing about the past and not caring enough, which seem to characterize the majority of today´s society. Also, questions such as how oppression is internalized and thereby provide challenges in Sami societies, will be answered. At the same time, we see, luckily, increasing consciousness about these issues.