Online lecture Studium Generale - Q&A with George Weiss

In het kader van de maatregelen i.v.m. coronavirus zijn de Studium Generale lezingen op de KABK-gebouw afgelast.

De overige lezingen zullen worden verzorgd via een online alternatief incl. een Q&A-sessie via Zoom; deze sessies zijn open voor iedereen:

This is the adapted web version of this week's lecture 'The Continuum of Violence' by guest speaker George Weiss, founder and director of Radio La Benevolencija HTF, a Humanitarian Media Intervention NGO dedicated to broadcast work to prevent identity-based violence.

Find below a personal message by George Weiss and join the conversation coming Thursday 23 April at 16.00.

Dear all,

It may be clear that - in front of our eyes, sensible in our fearfully tightening throats - we live the iconic time of the Parasite. That invisible Parasite that attacks our bodies. It's obvious. And yet, that particular feeling strangely mirrors the state of our society today. We have been living in a society fearful of parasites for the last generations.

Not so long ago, at the time of what the Germans call the “Aufbruchsstimmung” after our last World War, people dreamt of building a bright future. The Sixties were the peak of hope. Everywhere people fantasized about a better world. Where are those voices today? We now seem more intent on keeping what we have, rather than building something new. We have lost our societal imagination. The fear of others is natural in this state. After all, what are our own feelings about parasites? 'Get rid of them! Keep me clean! Does one really need to feel different? Isn’t it healthy to fight parasites? The outsiders, anybody, there is always a real enemy.

And we need that enemy to keep us feeling good about themselves. Leaders that promise to protect what we have (instead of building something new together) touch a deep nerve within us at times like this. Their problem is though, they do not have a magic wand to make our ills go away. Scapegoats, especially societal outsiders and foreigners - 'parasites' - are the ideal solution for such leaders. After all, people were fearing them already anyway, and some are too eager to find a clear and visible culprit. The other is being 'othered' like a dangerous stranger within the societal body. Getting rid of parasites seems like a solution we are naturally primed for. And so it is simple to get dragged into the so-called continuum of violence.

In our conversation this coming Thursday, I am looking forward to having a conversation with you about the above-mentioned Continuum of Violence. What can we, as simple beings, do when we see such harmful 'othering' happen in front of our eyes? How does it feel to be othered, do we know when we are othering others ourselves? How could artists position themselves in these extremely strong societal dynamics? Could they potentially counter such discourse with their art?

In times of authoritarianism, art shows its many guises. The 'Hang zum Gesamtkunstwerk' rears its face right there and then. Yes, authoritarians have thought themselves as great artists. Wagner inspired Hitler to stage a real live 'Weltenbrand' - a live spectacle in which 'righteous fighters' fought for a world free of 'parasites', a world in which only the strong survive. An even older Gesamtkünstler, Nero sang about the great art he made as Rome burnt at his feet. About what kind of “art’ were they talking about? Stockhausen even called Osama Bin Laden’s WTC bombings, transmitted live on TV, an amazing piece of performance art. Terrorists as art directors.. feeding straight into the Continuum of Violence?

What art to put against such art?

I'm looking forward to our conversation!

Yours truly, George Weiss
Director of La Radio Benevolencija

Animation used in the Rwandan TV Series Ingiro Ikwiye Season 1, 2012 by Radio La Benevolencija.

Love Radio is a transmedia documentary by Eefje Blankevoort & Anoek Steketee about the process of reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda.

Q&A on Thursday 23 April at 16.00

join the conversation

Lecture: The Continuum of Violence

In the last 60 years, social psychology research has identified a number of tendencies in societies that lived a severe case of genocide not too long ago. These studies agree that insecurity leads people to seek safety in groups. In some particular cases, this collective need for security can unleash a process that begins with the dehumanization of ´the other´ and can lead to extreme collective violence if left unchecked.

For instance, outsiders are easy targets and could come to be seen as parasites: opportunistic vermin that takes away something valuable and therefore deserves no less than total extermination. Depending on the dominant group’s cultural conditioning, unhealed traumas and understanding of the root causes of its own insecurity, this parasite-metaphor could perpetuate ever-growing cycles of violence.

Researcher Ervin Staub called this: “The Continuum of Violence”. Once this continuum is set in motion, many feel powerless in the face of the nasty feelings it generates – and the influence that peers exert on them who have given in to those feelings. However, there are ways to resist the pull and counter the narrative.

George Weiss will talk about the Continuum of Violence and how a metaphor like “parasite” plays a key role in it. What feelings and reasonings guide perpetrators, victims and let´s not forget, bystanders in their (non)action?

Bio - GEORGE WEISS (Vienna, 1955) is the founder and director of a Humanitarian Media Intervention NGO, Radio La Benevolencija HTF, dedicated to broadcast work to prevent identity-based violence. The organization runs a large action-research project, that started in 2003 -the “Great Lakes Reconciliation Media Project” Three long-running National Media Campaigns in Rwanda, the DR Congo and Burundi to create populations that are resilient to Hate incitement. In each of these countries, one long-running radio soap opera, inter-connected TV debate programs, and outreach discussions teach the population to both recognise and resist the continuum of violence. This has helped inter-communal reconciliation and has shown a remarkable impact. In the face of ever more resistance to immigration and foreigners in Europe, the organization currently develops new media-, online gaming, and TV formats to bring its methodology to potential extremist audiences in EU countries.



23 april 2020 16.00 - 17:00


Zoom Meeting ID: 861 349 342