Trauma theory has become a burgeoning site of research in recent decades, often demanding interdisciplinary reflections on trauma as a phenomenon that defies claims of disciplinary ownership. But while this scholarship has always been challenged by the temporal, affective, and corporeal dimensions of traumatic experience, recent debates have revealed scholarly disagreement over whether trauma is ultimately a phenomenon that transcends theory. Although they may be united by the importance of tending to trauma as a personally and philosophically significant concept, not all scholars who invoke the name “trauma” are having the same conversation. The focus of continental philosophers of religion on the aporia may help resolve certain impasses, yet important questions remain: Do structural parallels between experiences of trauma and transcendence justify thinking trauma in terms of phenomenological event? Given the irreducibility of traumatic experience, how might scholars avoid the double-bind of reductionism and obscurantism? This volume gathers scholars in a variety of disciplines to meet the challenge of how to think trauma in light of its burgeoning interdisciplinarity, and often its theoretical splintering. From distinctive disciplinary approaches, the work of philosophers, social theorists, philosophical psychologists, and theologians consider the limits and prospects of theory when thinking trauma and transcendence. Working at the intersections of trauma theory, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, theology, and especially the continental philosophy of religion, this volume draws attention to the increasing challenge of deciding whether trauma’s transcendent, evental, or unassimilable quality is being wielded as a defense of traumatic experience against reductionism, or whether it is promulgated as a form of obscurantism. The collection of the scholars as a whole and the structure of the sections in particular connect the interdisciplinary reader in trauma theory with overlapping but adjacent research on these shared limitations.
Contributors: Eric Boynton, Peter Capretto, Tina Chanter, Vincenzo Di Nicola, Ronald Eyerman, Donna Orange, Shelly Rambo, Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Hilary Jerome Scarsella, Eric Severson, Marcia Mount Shoop, Robert D. Stolorow, George Yancy.
List of Contributors
Introduction: Limits of Theory in Trauma and Transcendence
Eric Boynton and Peter Capretto
Constructive Phenomenologies of Trauma
1. Two Trauma Communities: A Philosophical Archaeology of Cultural and Clinical Trauma Theories
Vincenzo Di Nicola
2. Phenomenological-Contextualism All the Way Down: An Existential and Ethical Perspective on Emotional Trauma
Robert D. Stolorow
3. Traumatized by Transcendence: My Other’s Keeper
4. Evil, Trauma, and the Building of Absences
5. The Unsettling of Perception: Levinas and the Anarchic Trauma
Social and Political Analyses of Traumatic Experience
6. The Artful Politics of Trauma: Rancière’s Critique of Lyotard
7. Black Embodied Wounds and the Traumatic Impact of the White Imaginary
8. Perpetrator Trauma and Collective Guilt: My Lai
9. The Psychic Economy and Fetishization of Traumatic Lived Experience
Theological Aporia in the Aftermath of Trauma
10. Theopoetics of Trauma
11. Body-Wise: Re-Fleshing Christian Spiritual Practice in Trauma’s Wake
Marcia Mount Shoop
12. Trauma and Theology: Prospects and Limits in Light of the Cross
Hilary Jerome Scarsella
13. Prospects of Trauma for the Philosophy of Religion
About the Editors:
Eric Boynton is Professor and Chair of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Allegheny College, where he also serves as the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies. With Edith Wyschogrod and Jean-Joseph Goux he edited The Enigma of Gift and Sacrifice (Fordham), and with Martin Kavka Saintly Influence (Fordham). In addition to writings in these volumes, he has published articles and chapters on continental philosophy, the problem of evil and suffering, and aesthetics and film with venues in the philosophy of religion and contemporary theory.
Peter Capretto is a fellow in Theology and Practice at Vanderbilt University in the area of Religion, Psychology, and Culture. His publications on trauma, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and the philosophy of religion have appeared in The Heythrop Journal, Journal of Religion and Health, and other edited volumes including In the Wake of Trauma: Philosophy and Psychology for the Suffering Other (Duquesne). His writings are informed by his clinical work as a hospice chaplain, crisis counselor, and pastoral psychotherapist.