2024 East-West Philosopher's Conference: Trauma & Healing

May 24, 2024 - May 31, 2024
Department of Philosophy, University of Hawai'i at Mãnoa

2530 Dole Street
United States

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  • East-West Center
  • Hung Wo and Elizabeth Lao Ching Foundation
  • Uehiro Foundation for Ethics and Education
  • University of Hawai'i Press


American University
Ato Quayson
Stanford University


University of Hawaii
East-West Center

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MAY 24-31, 2024

The 12th East-West Philosopher’s Conference will explore the many dimensions of trauma and healing. While trauma can be physical, it can also be psychological, social, political, economic, and cultural—encompassing the immediate effects of global pandemics, the ongoing impacts of ethnic and gender bias, the intergenerational legacies of colonization and geopolitical strife, and the planetary ramifications of anthropogenic climate disruption.

Ours is an era in which differences of histories, cultures, and identities are engaged as sources of insight, but also one of retrenchment—a period of relational appreciation, but also one of schism. The global scientific community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was a stunning example of human potential for empathetic collaboration in the face of global personal and public health trauma. Yet, the economic trauma of the pandemic has resulted in crumbling international alliances, deepening trade wars, and an unfortunate collective reinvestment in zero-sum endgame framings of geopolitics against which there is no vaccination and through which the terms of healing have become delinked from the restoration of global wholeness.

These traumas do not stop shaping our lives when the immediate danger comes to an end. Traumatic pain remains stored in the memories of peoples and individuals, it populates their imagination and shapes horizons of possibility. Thus a philosophical exploration of trauma and healing is not only diagnostic of current problems but also a form of genealogy.

We invite participants to reflect upon the relational complexity of both trauma and healing, critically and historically engaging concrete occurrences of trauma while also drawing out theoretical insights regarding healing that strengthens and empowers and resists the forms of personal and social amnesia that make the repetition of trauma so tragically common.

Of special interest are panels and papers that explore the trauma and healing at all scales from the interpersonal, to the relational traumas experienced by nations at war and cultures in conflict, thus addressing the interplay of the private and public spheres, of ethics and economics, of the human and the natural sciences, and among disciplines, classes, genders, and generations. Panel and paper proposals are encouraged that explore trauma and healing during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the trauma of refugees, displaced and colonized peoples, trauma and healing in personal relationships, climate change as a form of trauma to the planet and its people, trauma and healing related to issues of gender and sexuality, and how philosophers of all traditions, ancient and modern, cross-culturally deal with trauma and healing.


Jin Y. Park, Chair of Philosophy and Religion at American University, Washington DC, “Translating Violence.”
Ato Quayson, Jean G. and Morris M. Doyle Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Stanford University, CA, “The Ethnography of the Private Sphere: Trauma, Domesticity, and Healing in the Work of Toni Morrison.”

We invite proposals for individual papers and panels. Please submit a 250-300 word abstract to the Conference organizers via: [email protected].

Submission Timeline: November 1, 2023

Notifications of acceptance for abstracts and panel proposals received by November 1 will be sent out by December 15, 2023. We have established an early submission timeline to facilitate faculty applying to their own institutions for travel funding.

Abstracts received after November 1, 2023, will be vetted as received, taking into consideration the late submission. The absolute deadline for abstract submissions is March 15, 2024. After this, we will not be able to accommodate additional proposals.

Final Papers Due: April 15, 2024

Hosted in keeping with the Hawaiian Islands’ spirit of aloha, breakfast and lunch will be provided for all registered presenters, as well as an opening reception and final dinner. The Conference does not provide lodging or travel support, but economical lodgings of various kinds are readily available in Honolulu.

The East-West Philosophers’ Conference series is the premier forum for convening philosophers from across the academy who are committed to cross-cultural inquiry. The Conference is the oldest continuous international gathering in Hawai‘i and has been a model of productive collaboration between the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and the East-West Center for decades. It typically attracts 300-325 participants from 30-40 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.

For nearly eighty-five years, the East-West Philosophers’ Conference series has convened some of the world’s most prominent philosophers to engage in impactful dialogues on themes of global significance. The dialogue began in 1939 when three University of Hawai‘i visionaries—Professors Charles A. Moore, Wing-tsit Chan, and Gregg Sinclair—initiated the first East-West Philosophers’ Conference in Honolulu. Its aim was to explore the significance of Eastern ways of thinking as a complement to Western thought, and to distill a possible synthesis of the ideas and ideals that are aspired to in these unique traditions. Cross-cultural philosophy has evolved from this earliest idea to pursue mutual respect and accommodation among the world’s cultures, with conferences continuing to be held in 1949, 1959, 1964, 1969, 1989, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2011, and 2016.

This conference series has been successful in fostering dialogue among philosophical traditions and was instrumental in the establishment of the East-West Center on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i in 1960. Philosophy East & West, now one of the leading journals in cross-cultural philosophy, was founded in 1951 as a forum that continues this same dialogue. Conference volumes from papers presented at these conferences have been published by the University of Hawai’i Press to share with and promote further discussion on its theme within the world academic community.

The EAST-WEST CENTER promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options.

The UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI’I is a Research I institution founded in 1907 that has identified Asia and the Pacific as one of its selected areas of excellence, with many of the centers in its School of Pacific and Asian Studies ranked as National Resource Centers. The University of Hawai’i Press is one of the leading international publishers of scholarly monographs and journals on Asian cultures.

Yours Truly,

Roger T. Ames, UH Emeritus, Co-Director

Tamara Albertini, UH Professor, Co-Director

Peter Hershock, EWC, Co-Director

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