School of Histories, Languages and Cultures

The Perpetrator Self: Violence, Gender and Emotion in Conflict and Culture in the Long Twentieth Century

17th and 18th September 2015 at University of Hull

Achilles with Hector's body

Generously supported by University of Hull, German History Society and Technische Universität Dresden, Department of History, Chair of Modern History.

For all enquiries contact Clare Bielby.

With its focus on the violent perpetrator self in the long twentieth century, this two-day interdisciplinary conference marks the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War Two by casting new light on the neglected field of violent perpetrator subjectivity. It takes place at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE) in Hull, the second most heavily destroyed city after London during World War Two.

There are important ethical reasons why the violent perpetrator self is a relatively neglected category, both in scholarly discourse and in museum practice, the concern being that a too narrow concentration on the subjectivity of the perpetrator would take the focus away from that of the victims of violence. And yet, it is surely through understanding how and why individuals perpetrate acts of violence – and thus how violence might inform a sense of self and self-worth – that we can start to develop strategies for dealing with violence. What are the positive and negative emotions/affects that violence is bound up with? How does the perpetrator self legitimise violence? What does violence do for both the individual and collective self? It is to these questions and more that this conference, and the broader series of events to which we intend it will lead, are addressed.

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