The Mythology of Violence

Santa Barbara Center Focuses on Humanity's History of War

Center for Mythological Studies

The Foundation for Mythological Studies (FMS), a non-profit organization based in Santa Barbara, is essentially devoted to the study of humanity as a whole. Through examining the history of the human race, FMS scholars in varied disciplines, including religious studies, philosophy, mythological studies, and psychology, attempt to solve some of the greatest mysteries of why people behave the way they do.

They also have begun to host conferences on more specific topics. This year’s second annual conference will focus on the Mythology of Violence, a subject which is relevant not only to events in the world at large but to our own community. A past Your Worship column discussed ways in which local clergy are attempting to address violence here in Santa Barbara. The Mythology of Violence conference, while less specific, might still contain some insight into what motivates individuals to behave in ways that are harmful to others, to themselves, and to the world around them.

The conference has attracted a wide range of speakers and panelists to address this topic. Among them are five faculty members from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, which co-sponsored the conference. Lionel Corbett, professor of depth psychology, is also the author of The Religious Function of the Psyche. Aaron Kipnis, Ph.D., is an expert on youth violence specifically; his lecture might be particularly interesting to Santa Barbarans concerned about local issues.

Aside from the Pacifica five, there are also ten other speakers and panelists: Chris Hedges, who is a New York Times reporter and an expert on global terrorism and human rights issues, and Sarah Husain, editor of the anthology Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War, Faith and Sexuality, are among them.

Overall, the conference will cover a dizzying array of interrelated issues, all intended to shed light on the question of why “we continue to choose to inflict injury on ourselves, one another, and the planet,” as FMS describes it. While no problems may be solved, the conference will at least bring together experts on a variety of aspects of the problem of human violence, and should promote an interesting discussion.

The conference will take place from April 4-6. For more information, visit the Foundation for Mythological Studies website.

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