As part of the Lecture Series New Frontiers in Memory Studies, Stef Craps (University of Ghent) talked about “Trends in Trauma Theory” in Frankfurt on Tuesday, 10th June 2014.
My paper will explore some of the latest developments in trauma studies or trauma theory, an area of cultural inquiry that emerged in the early 1990s and has grown significantly since then. In the first part, I will discuss the emerging tendency to study trauma as a global rather than as a European or Western phenomenon. In the second part, I will address recent attempts to move beyond normative trauma aesthetics, which would involve abandoning the popular notion that a modernist aesthetic of fragmentation and aporia is uniquely suited to the task of bearing witness to trauma. The third part will look at the shift or broadening of focus from victim trauma to perpetrator trauma, and the fourth and final part will trace an increasing awareness of the limits of trauma. While I believe there is a future for trauma theory, especially if it continues on the road of pluralization and diversification, I think we should be wary of making grandiose claims for the relevance and utility of even a maximally pluralized and diversified trauma theory. I will argue in favour of responsible expansion and against hubristic overreach.