Symposium on Cultural, Existential and Phenomenological Dimensions of Bereavement
This symposium is intended to be a forum for interdisciplinary perspectives on the intersections between the cultural, existential and phenomenological dimensions of grief and bereavement. The symposium takes place in Copenhagen.
11.11.2019 - 12.11.2019
As Peter Berger famously argued, “every human society is, in the last resort, men banded together in the face of death.” Individually as well as culturally, human existence is structured by the awareness of our mortality. This not only holds true concerning the horizon of one’s own life, as a great many existentialist authors have emphasised, but death equally structures our relations to significant Others. Our vulnerability in the face of death is a precondition for love and commitment. Hence, in so far as we form relations and attachments, we are exposed to the suffering from loss. Being human means being vulnerable to loss, and as such grief is a universal human phenomenon. However, the cultural practices and beliefs surrounding death and bereavement vary profoundly across history and culture, giving shape to substantial variation in terms of how people in different cultural settings relate to and experience loss.
This symposium is intended to be a forum for interdisciplinary perspectives on the intersections between the cultural, existential and phenomenological dimensions of grief and bereavement. Specifically, we aim to shed light on the constitutive role of grief and bereavement in all human life, and not only derivatively, as a matter of pathology. Themes to be addressed include the following:
- What characterises the experience of the death of the Other?
- What, if anything, is specific to the experience of bereavement?
- What are the dynamics and points of transfer between sociogenesis and ontogenesis in grief, and how may these be analysed?
- What is the importance of cultural practices and beliefs in mediating processes of grief?
- What are the current conditions of possibility for grieving in Western cultures?
The symposium is arranged as part of the research project The Culture of Grief at Aalborg University, Denmark. The aim is to create a small-scale symposium with leading researchers in the field in order to encourage joint conversation and discussion. The symposium will be open to a limited public audience.
Dr. Dennis Klass, professor emeritus, Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri (US)
Dr. Kathleen Higgins, professor of philosophy, University of Texas at Austin (US)
Dr. Thomas Attig, professor emeritus of philosophy from Bowling Green State University, independent applied philosopher and author (US)
Dr. Kirsten Jacobson, professor of philosophy, University of Maine (US)
Dr. Tony Walter, professor emeritus of Death Studies, University of Bath (UK)
Dr. Leeat Granek, Associate Professor, School of Health Policy and Management, Faculty of Health, York University in Toronto, Canada.
Dr. Thomas Fuchs, Professor of Philosophy and Psychiatry, Universität Heidelberg (Germany)
Dr. Edith Maria Steffen, senior lecturer in counselling psychology, University of Roehampton (UK)
Dr. Matthew Ratcliffe, professor of philosophy, University of York (UK)
Questions concerning registration, venue etc. can be directed to Charlotte Hyldgaard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Price: 750 DKK
Registration through this link:
Monday Nov 11th
09:30-10:00: Welcome (Coffee, croissants/fruit)
10:00- 10:25: Svend Brinkmann: The culture of grief: Framing
10:30-11:30: Dennis Klass: Themes in Continuing Bonds: Cultural, Existential, and Phenomenological
Break 15 min
11:45– 12:45: Leeat Granek: Gender dynamics and gendered expectations on expression of grief
13:45-14:45: Matthew Ratcliffe: Some Phenomenological Reflections on Bereavement Hallucinations and Continuing Bonds
15:45- 14:45: Kathleen Higgins: Haunted Spaces, Forlorn Objects – Aesthetics as a Way of Coping
14:45-15:00 Break: coffee/cake
15:00-16:30: Moderated discussion: Take-away of the day
Tuesday Nov 12th
08:30-09:00: Welcome (Coffee, croissants/fruit)
09:00-10:00: Thomas Fuchs: Mourning, Melancholy, and Depression. An existential phenomenology of reactions to transience
10:00-11:00: Kirsten Jacobson: Grief and the Photograph: a Phenomenology of Captured Time and Its Resonances with Death
Break 15 min
11:15-12:15: Thomas Attig: Phenomenological perspectives on contemporary grief theory
13:15- 14:15: Tony Walter: Finding solace in nature – a protestant/secular sensibility?
14:15-15:15: Edith Steffen: Sensory and quasi-sensory experiences of deceased loved ones (SED) and meaning making
15:15-15:30 Break (coffee/cake)
15:30-16:30: Moderated discussion
16:30-17:00 Farewells and continued bonds
Aalborg University Copenhagen, A. C. Meyers Vænge 15 2450 Copenhagen SV, Denmark