‘Collective trauma matters on all levels…’

People sitting in a circle

Collective trauma matters on all levels for us… we, media and politicians use them all the time and we remain in a trauma cycle.

Now I understand why our society does not really make progress…

These were just some of the statements from participants who took part in a multi-disciplinary workshop on ‘Collective trauma in societal processes’ organised by Indie Peace last week in Armenia. 

The highly interactive event brought together more than 50 Armenian professionals – psychologists, academics from the fields of education, sociology, peacebuilding practitioners, and also Armenians from Karabakh who are actively engaged in supporting their communities in their recovery and adaptation to displacement.

The facilitator Cordula Reimann from core offered a deep dive into the topic and why and how it matters in the context of Armenia. It became clear that 

  • Collective trauma hampers social and political development and progress.  
  • Most communities and leaders cope ‘with the past’ by making use of learned patterns of survival and coping such as narratives of victimhood, scapegoating or strong emotions of fear/anxiety. 
  • Collective trauma can be easily manipulated and misused by political leaders.  

The event stimulated some quite profound discussions and we observe a growing recognition across different disciplines of how collective trauma shapes Armenian society as well as an appetite to explore further how to work with collective trauma both on a practical, community level, but also on a political level.  

Participants discussed  how collective narratives of victimhood, collective worldviews of ‘us versus them’ and collective emotions like fear and mistrust play out in current Armenian society and politics. 

Despite the seriousness of the topic, there was space for play, fun and deep connection.

While this workshop was just an introduction to the topic, Indie Peace and Cordula Reimann will continue broaden and deepening the understanding of collective trauma in the Caucasus. 

Anyone interested in engaging with the topic collective trauma or learning more about Indie Peace’s work in the Caucasus, feel free to contact us

Read more on this topic:

Photo Credits: Karen Sukiasyan

This workshop was part of Indie Peace’s initiative on Collective Trauma, funded by the European Union. The views expressed in the article are the sole responsibility of Indie Peace and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.