Keynote Speakers

Susanne Bregnbæk
Statelessness, transformative experience and the multiple-self

7th June, 10:15 – 11:30
Eilert Sundts hus, ground floor
Trygve Haavelmos auditorium 7 (the building plan)

This lecture examines the problem of statelessness by exploring the transformative experience of estrangement by a Kurdish Iranian refugee named Hiwa in exile in Denmark. Through a person-centered account, I ask how we as ethnographers can understand the inner life of another, including experiences that sometimes elude conventional language? Drawing on psychoanalytic theories of “the multiple self”, I describe Hiwa’s changing self-states as involving a triple reorientation in the form of an estranged relationship to his past, present and envisioned future. I suggest that literary expressions, such as Kurdish poetry and writing about exile provided a means through which an inner world of emotions could be shared. The paper seeks to provide a window to the human consequences of the ”Paradigm Shift Law” in Danish asylum policies, which entailed making all residence permits temporary – and more broadly to the growing problem of statelessness in Europe.

Susanne Bregnbæk is an Associate Professor at University College Copenhagen.

Tanya Marie Luhrmann
Voices of madness, voices of spirit

9th June, 11:15 – 12:30
Eilert Sundts hus, ground floor
Trygve Haavelmos auditorium 7 (the building plan)

They seem like strange experiences—a voice whispered on the wind, a god who speaks from on high—but voices are far more common than we think. In this talk, I argue that voices—the sense of being called by another—are at the heart of the human experience of mind. Our minds are deeply social—less interior inner universes, more like dinner parties with noisy guests. Religion is a way of using that social dimension to your advantage—crafting an inner coach who is not the self and who, by being other, manages the inner cacophony. Sometimes of course this process goes terribly wrong. I hope we open a discussion about how people use social practice to shape inner worlds and moral purpose, and about the complex relationship of spiritual experience and psychosis.

Tanya Marie Luhrmann is the Albert Ray Lang Professor of Anthropology (and Psychology, by courtesy) at Stanford University.