Talks on Cultural Renewal with Dr. Sousan Abadian

Event

29Nov202211:00
to
1Dec202217:30

Dr. Sousan Abadian is currently a visiting Fulbright Scholar in the Specialist Program at McGill. She is the author of the recently published book, “Generative Cultural Renewal: An Effective Resource in Ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting & Other Harmful Practices” (Waterside, Oct 2022), which offers ethical and culturally-sensitive means of ending traditional practices like Female Genital Cutting. Dr. Abadian earned a Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University, an M.P.A. in International Development from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and an M.A. in the Anthropology of Social Change and Development, also from Harvard University. She was an associate at Cambridge Leadership Associates facilitating workshops and giving keynotes on Adaptive Leadership. Most recently, she served as a Franklin Fellow at the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (2017-2019). Her portfolio included preventing violent extremism, rights of religious minorities in the Middle East and South Asia, gender issues, atrocity prevention, and cultural restoration. She has also been a Fellow at MIT’s Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values as well as at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership.


Tuesday, November 29
Collective Trauma & Cultural Renewal
Online: 11:00 AM via Zoom
In-Person: 4:30 PM, Education Building Room 233

This talk examines what happens when whole groups and communities have experienced trauma. Why have some communities recovered fairly well socially and economically following traumatic experiences while others have not? This talk will examine why not all collective traumas (CTs) are the same: What makes them different, and what are the implications of these differences in terms of outcomes? Under what conditions does trauma result in lasting, intergenerational adverse effects on people and institutions? How does trauma sometimes get normalized in our cultures, and why do so many avoid looking at the issue? Are there dangers to incorporating a trauma framework? How can we address severe CT and what is the desired end-state: What makes for a healthy community? Depending on time and the audience’s interests, Dr. Abadian will explore the implications of CT on: Gender (Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation as a case), Race (“Culture of Poverty” or “Culture of Trauma?”), Radicalization (supremacist ideologies, religious radicalization), Exercising Leadership, Child rearing, and Diplomacy (Balkans, Iran, Israel & Palestinians). 

  • Sessions are one hour.
  • Click the link above to join the virtual meeting.
Thursday, December 1
Generative Cultural Renewal: Ending Cultural Practices that Target Women
Online: 11:00 AM via Zoom
In-Person: 4:30 PM, Education Building Room 233

In Generative Cultural Renewal, Dr. Sousan Abadian uses the example of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) as a case study of how cultural practices that potentially traumatize people can become normalized, and how many women seemingly consent to the practice. But when is “consent” not consent, and what is the role of social constraints and trauma in shaping consent? If people from outside a given culture have concerns about a practice, is it always inappropriate, ethnocentric, and a form of cultural imperialism? How do we intervene in ways that are appropriate, ethical, and compassionate? The book calls for generative cultural renewal and leadership from inside and outside communities. It offers a novel framework for positive culture change, one that strengthens generative norms and practices while allowing for innovation, including eliminating practices that no longer align with evolving collective aspirations for enhanced well-being. While FGM/C is the primary focus, the findings apply broadly to other cultural practices worldwide. She also asks us all to question where we have normalized trauma-inducing practices in our own cultures, and she equips us with the tools to inspire generative cultural renewal in all our communities.

  • Sessions are one hour.
  • Click the link above to join the virtual meeting.
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