02 November 2017The David Buchan Lecture - Folk Narrative As Terror TherapyThursday, 16 November 2017
18:30, King's College Conference Centre
(followed by a reception featuring North-East produce)
Hosted by the Elphinstone Institute
Folk Narrative as Terror Therapy in Scotland, Appalachia, and the Wake of Disasters Worldwide
Professor Carl Lindahl (University of Houston)
In oral traditions worldwide, tales tend to come out at night, and they do the work of darkness. Narrators from Scotland and Appalachia use the darkness from which their tales emerge as a ground for unseen, but colourful words. These words in turn inspire listeners to fashion vivid, visual worlds which they can see only with their eyes closed. Terror may be the sharpest spur to the formation of these imagesâ€”and wise narrators manipulate the fear factor to shape unforgettable lessons for their most receptive listeners. Sharing terror creates a bond that transcends fear to accomplish healing. A similar therapy is at work in the stories of disaster survivors, which are reshaped over time to convert memories of loss into scripts for salvation, and for that reason, such narratives need to be told in certain ways and under certain conditions enabling survivors the most power possible to heal themselves.
In 2005, Professor Carl Lindahl founded Surviving [Hurricane] Katrina and Rita in Houston [SKRH], the world's first project in which disaster survivors have taken the lead in documenting fellow survivors' experience of disaster. He continues to co-direct SKRH, which has received worldwide recognition for its role in aiding survivors overcome the traumatic effects of hurricanes. In 2014 he convened a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Conference bringing together ethnographers, disaster survivors, and public health specialists from seven countries to strategize ways in which to help survivors draw upon their traditional knowledge to become more active agents in their own recovery. The conference culminated with the formation of the International Commission for Survivor-Centered Disaster Recovery, of which he is the founding organizer. Also in 2014 he began working with Haitians to create Sivivan pou Sivivan (Survivor to Survivor), a pilot program based on the model of SKRH, in which Haitian earthquake survivors interview one another. Lindahl is working to make Sivivan pou Sivivan a self-sustaining, entirely Haitian-run and Haitian-staffed program.
Professor Carl Lindahl (University of Houston) is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar, a Folklore Fellow of the Finnish Academy of Sciences, and an internationally recognized authority in folk narrative, medieval folklore, folktales and legends, festivals and celebrations, folklore fieldwork, traditional healing strategies, and ways in which folk cultures seek and exercise covert power. Among the folk cultures he has explored are French Americans (Cajun, Creole, and Caribbean) and the regional cultures of Texas, Appalachia, and the Ozarks
He currently serves on the editorial boards of Fabula: Journal of Folktale Studies (GÃ¶ttingen, Germany) and Folk Life (Belfast, Northern Ireland) as well as the advisory board of the Folklife and Traditional Arts program of Houston Arts Alliance.