Indeterminate States: trans-cultural; trans-racial; trans-gender.
Do these states mirror and reflect creative Jungian/post Jungian ideas about cross border migration within personal and cultural complexes as facilitators for change?
The 2018 joint IAAP/IAJS conference at the Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany, West-end campus, held from 2-5 August 2018 reflects upon the topic of Indeterminate States within an interdisciplinary Jungian/post-Jungian framework. The theme locates Frankfurt’s multi-national trading history with its recent trans-cultural, migratory routes at the heart of Europe as the birth place of Goethe and the home to the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory.
This timely topic ties together a key Jungian concept of ‘holding the tension of the opposites’ as an Indeterminate State, not fixed in a specific identity, whether cultural, racial or gendered within the innovative work on complex theory. It reflects our increasingly global migration and mixing between cultures, races, and the sexes which mirror the way we work with our own unconscious ‘shadow’ complexes. Are we are able to hold these indeterminate states as creative liminal manifestations pointing to new forms, integrate the shadow ‘other’ as potential, and allow sufficient cross border migration and fertilisation as permissible?
This is a complex and difficult process as it triggers and activates our own unconscious complexes, personal and cultural, in terms of securing a viable sense of self-identity. Can we stand the process of ‘not knowing’ as we move into new developmental terrain whereby we question the tenets of safe and accepted belief systems. Jung positions the symbol as the mediatory product that develops from ‘holding of the tension of the opposites’ between the conscious and unconscious opposing positions, combining both opposites in its resolution as the transcendent function and creating new cross border forms capable of stabilising the ego.
Recent interdisciplinary research on symbol formation (Mithen, 1999; Lewis-Williams, 2002; Renfrew and Morley, 2009; Coleman, 2016) all speculate that human ability to create symbols is a continuum that dates back to the Upper Palaeolithic era (c 40,000 years). Mithin (1999) argues that this ability derives from the development of cognitive fluidity, capable of combining knowledge through ‘mapping across domains.’ Cognitive fluidity expresses itself as the ‘emergence of representational re-description’ in order to solve complex, life-threatening problems in highly uncertain environments and find new creative solutions.
Jung describes symbols as deriving from unconscious activity (CW 6, paras. 825): ‘From the activity of the unconscious there now emerges a new content, constellated by thesis and antithesis in equal measure and standing in complementary relation to both.’ He continues (para. 826): ‘Sometimes it seems…the stability of the unborn individuality were the decisive factor, sometimes as though the mediatory product possessed a superior power.’ Out of this activity emerges a living third form that is neither a combination nor a rejection of the two.
This topic is highly relevant to the migration of peoples into Europe from different ethnicities, religion and languages, globalisation, the increase in national political protectionism, and populism as a reaction. It also reflects the recent need (even among school children) to cross-over from a binary sexual identification into an indeterminate sexual orientation. This is particularly evident in LGBT as ‘others.’ Do the sexes (male/female) remain polarised out of fear of creating new forms of reproduction, whereby same sex parents (male and female) nurture their young and distance themselves from the tenets of monotheistic gender ideals?
It taps into the recent work of Singer and Kimbels (2004), Kimbles (2014), Singer and Rasche (eds.) (2016) on cultural complexes, cultural diversity, and phantom narratives amongst multiple ‘soul’ manifestations that are compelled to traverse ‘foreign’ borders as the painful experiences of war, cultural trauma, scapegoating, loss of land, personal history, and identity.
This theme has particular relevance for Jungians (academics and analysts) not living in their country of origin and speaking another language, not their mother tongue. It speaks to analysts and psychotherapists working with traumatised clients not of their own culture. How does the psyche incorporate the ‘other’ in a creative mixing of cultural and racial histories, language and gender specificities quite foreign to its own? How we navigate such Indeterminate States as we cross-over from the known (‘safety/perfection’) into the new (‘risky/imperfect’) terrain is the key into the psychological opening up of new complex forms.
This joint IAAP/IAJS conference connects Jungian and post-Jungian ideas of individuation to Critical Theory developed by the Frankfurt School during the 1920’s and 1930’s onwards, through the works of Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Benjamin, Fromm, Habermas and Honneth with their emphases on inter-subjectivity, psychoanalysis, and social change.
The recent Jungian emphasis on analysis and activism (cf. Samuels, 2001; Kiehl, Saban, Samuels, eds., 2016) reflects certain social activist aspects of Critical Theory. A core theme addressed by Honneth (1985; 1986) stresses that societal conflict represents the internal communal movement of historical advancement and human emancipation. The struggle for recognition best characterizes the fight for emancipation by individuals or social groups, and represents the negative experience of domination attached to disrespect and misrecognitions. To come to terms with such negations of subjective forms of self-realization means to be able to transform social reality and points to the crucial role recognition plays as a criterion for grounding inter-subjectivity. Critical Theory does not ‘fetishize’ knowledge, considering it functional to ideological critique and social emancipation. Critical Theory transcends the methodological problem of ‘theory/practice’ by stressing their fluid interconnectedness.
The theme of the joint IAAP/IAJS conference on Indeterminate States is well represented by current research into trans-gender, trans-cultural, and migration issues at the Institute for Social Research, Goethe-University, Frankfurt, and offers a unique forum for presentations.
We welcome proposals which offer perspectives on all aspects of Indeterminate States: trans-cultural; trans-racial; trans-gender, as symbolic liminal spaces moving across borders into unchartered territory, likened to the difficulty of working with unconscious individual/cultural complexes by bringing them into ego consciousness for recognition and assimilation. This emergent phenomenon promotes change through the process of movement and action. What kind of boundaries develop that allows sufficient traffic to pass between the ego and the unconscious? The conference gives space to explore transformation within (and outside) archetypal and Critical Theory to differentiate nomadic, borderland traffic (c.f. Bernstein, 2005) expressing itself as a teleological continuum towards re-recognition and re-description.
The deadline for proposals is 31.10.2017. Please submit your proposal in English of no more than 300 words with short biographical details to the following submission link:Begin the Submission Process
A joint conference web-site will be established shortly with all the latest conference updates.
In case of specific queries, please contact Pilar Amezaga: [email protected] concerning the programme; Michael Glock: [email protected] relating to online submissions: Liz Brodersen: [email protected] regarding Frankfurt conference facilities.
Please note that we are unable to offer honorarium or reimbursement of expenses if your proposal is accepted.
With warm wishes from the joint IAAP/IAJS organising and programme committee:
Pilar Amezaga, Grazina Gudaite, Emilija Kiehl, Margaret Klenck, Regina Renn (IAAP) Michael Glock, Liz Brodersen, Peter Dunlap, Konoyu Nakamura (IAJS)