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From Humiliation to Dignity

August 22 2011

From Humiliation to Dignity

Helping people move out of humiliation and into dignity, "enlarging the boundaries of compassion," is the theme of an international conference being held in Dunedin at the end of this month. It is the 17th conference of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS) network, that holds two annual conferences, one in New York and the other elsewhere in the world, and comes to New Zealand for the first time.

'Studies on the effects of humiliation on human behaviour and especially violence are new' says Brian Ward, a New Zealand member in HumanDHS's Global Core Team. 'Central to the studies' he says 'is the understanding of the cycle of humiliation and violence, and how it might be overcome so that mutual respect and dignity can be nurtured.
'It's of particular relevance to New Zealand in light of our government's new green paper on vulnerable children' he says.

The International Conference on dignity takes place at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin from August 29 through September 1.
Conference topics are relevant to those exploring the roots of domestic violence, child abuse, and school bullying, adolescent transitions, youth suicide and violence, safety in the workplace, and the family-worklife balance.

Founder of HumanDHS (Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies) is conference principal speaker Dr. Evelin Lindner who has dedicated her life to the cause, living for several years as a 'global citizen' without salary, house and car.

She has a Ph.D. in medicine and a second Ph.D. in psychology and did part of her last year of medical studies in Dunedin in 1983. She is the author of three seminal books that contribute to delineating the foundations of the new field of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies. Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict was her first; Emotion and Conflict: How Human Rights Can Dignify Emotion and Help Us Wage Good Conflict her second, and Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security, her third, with a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

'Over the years my intuition grew that, basically, all human beings yearn for connection, recognition, and respect, and that its withdrawal or denial, experienced as humiliation, may be the strongest force that creates rifts between people and breaks down relationships' she says. 'I believe that the desire for connection, recognition, and respect indeed unites us human beings, that it is universal and can serve as a platform for contact and cooperation.' She continues: To me, humiliation can be described as the nuclear bomb of the emotions, and be identified in international, intercultural, intergroup, or interpersonal settings.'

Closing the conference is a public event, 'From Humiliation to Compassion and Dignity,' chaired by the University of Otago's Professor Kevin Clements. Both founder Dr. Lindner and HumanDHS director Dr. Linda Hartling will give talks: Dr. Lindner on 'Gender, Humiliation and Global Security' and Dr. Hartling on 'Appreciative Enquiry and Humiliation.'

ENDS

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