The Aesthetics of Testimony and the Unfinished Transgenerational Task of Trauma

Tuesday, January 4, 2022 at 1:00 – 2:30pm
Rebroadcast at 8pm

Working Alongside Oliver Sacks: Kate Edgar in Conversation with Lisa Gornick

Presenter: Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Ph.D.

Location: Register via the button below to receive the Zoom link

In her talk, Dr. Gobodo-Madikizela will explore the “aesthetics” of trauma testimony through the lens of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and consider culturally specific moments through which traumatic memory was enacted on the TRC. By engaging a conversation between the archive of the public hearings of the TRC and narratives of the younger generation of black South Africans, and informed by psychoanalytic theory, this presentation will offer a conceptual framework for how intergenerational transmission of memory in the lives of descendants of generations of victims of prolonged traumatic subjugation might be explained. A tri-directional perspective in which memory crosses and re-crosses past, present, and future temporalities is proposed, and the movement and translation of memory between and across these temporalities will be explained and conceptualized as a “tri-telescopic” view of memory.

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is Professor and Research Chair for Historical Trauma and Transformation and the South African National Research Foundation Chair in Violent Histories and Transgenerational Trauma at Stellenbosch University. Her work focuses mainly on two strands of research: exploring intergenerational repercussions of oppression and institutional violence, and exploring what she terms “reparative humanism.” The latter builds on her earlier research on the psychoanalytic interpretation of remorse and forgiveness in the aftermath of human rights violations. Gobodo-Madikizela’s accolades include the Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship Award (2021), the most prestigious academic honor on the African continent; the Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute Fellowship (2020-2021), the Alan Paton Prize for non-fiction (2004) and the Christopher Award (2003) for “a book that speaks to the human spirit” for her book A Human Being Died that Night: A Story of Forgiveness. She received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award in 2007, Distinguished African Scholar visiting professorship at Cornell University’s Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and honorary doctorates from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, and Rhodes University in South Africa.

This will be a special Columbia Association for Psychoanalytic Medicine event. Please take note of the times involved.

Because Dr. Gobodo-Madikizela will be speaking to us from South Africa, the meeting will occur live from 1-2:30pm EST. We hope that many of you can join us at that time. If however, your schedule makes that impossible, we will rebroadcast the talk at our usual APM time, 8pm EST.  We do hope you can join us for one of the time slots.