CFP for Panel on Trauma and Healing at 12th East-West Philosophers’ Conference (May 24-31, 2024)

Title of Proposed Panel: Orientation-Philosophical Explorations of Trauma and Disorientation

Organizers: Dr. Reinhard G. Mueller and Dr. Olga Faccani (on behalf of the Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation)

Thomas Laqueur, writing in the London Review of Books in 2010, signaled the emergence of our age as one experienced as trauma by highlighting the verifiable surge in the term’s usage: “Having once been relatively obscure, it is now found everywhere: used in the New York Times fewer than 300 times between 1851 and 1960, it has appeared 11,000 times since.” As trauma’s omnipresence surges, not least through the Coronavirus pandemic and recent wars, the challenge arises: How do we orient ourselves in a rapidly changing world and to cascading waves of traumatic experiences? How do we cope with disorienting crises?

In this panel we explore, via the lens of the philosophy of orientation, how individuals and societies grapple with disorientations and reorientations amidst the pervasiveness of trauma. The philosophy of orientation was developed by Werner Stegmaier, at first in German in his Philosophie der Orientation (De Gruyter, 2008) and subsequently in its abridged and updated English translation What is Orientation? A Philosophical Investigation (De Gruyter, 2019). For Stegmaier, orientation is the achievement of finding one’s way in a new situation in order to master the situation and not be mastered by it. One way to deal with disorientations caused by traumatic events is by means of establishing new routines in life.

The representability of trauma often constitutes an aporetic issue, one that is predicated upon the “paradoxical relationship between the elision of memory and the precision of recall” (Arnold-de Simine, 2018). While traumatic events and contexts often resist representation, philosophy, and especially the philosophy of orientation, may provide a powerful perspective to explore experiences of trauma and investigate how to reorient oneself in the face of traumatic events.

We welcome all orientation-philosophical explorations of – but not limited to:

· Representations of trauma in philosophy, literature, psychology, art, film, music, and other media

· Ways of coping and orienting to trauma, disorientation, crisis, and change

· Impacts of trauma on sociopolitical realms, mapping out mass disorientations and emergent reorientations

· Technological advancements as potential footholds amidst trauma or as catalysts for further disorientation

· How different media and theories can represent trauma and disorientation/reorientation differently

Interested contributors are invited to share their abstracts or questions. Please submit a 250-300 word abstract for consideration to the panel organizers Dr. Reinhard G. Mueller and Dr. Olga Faccani at: and

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