Resilience before PTSD: or, Robert Vas vs The Bomb

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

Resilience today is a highly instrumentalized weapon of the neoliberal state. Its purpose is the reduction and privatization of responsibility for emotions that conflict with the institutional interests of the western armed forces. This development dates back to the recognition of PTSD as an official diagnostic category in 1980, and to notions of civilian resilience developed in the 1990s and 2000s. This article seeks to historicize and relativize modern-day conceptions of resilience by exploring an earlier mid-twentieth century iteration which is anti-militaristic, non-institutional, and profoundly humanist. This version of resilience is rooted in the experiences of the Second World War and early Cold War generations as they attempted to cope retrospectively with their own traumatic memories. To develop this argument the article draws on recent critiques of resilience by Brett T Litz and Anne Boyar, on Jens Brockmeier’s notion of ‘subjunctive thinking’, and on a case study of the Anglo-Hungarian documentarist Robert Vas (1931–78). Of particular interest is To Die – To Live: The Survivors of Hiroshima (1975), Vas’s film collaboration with Robert and Mary Lifton, in which the director speaks with some of the hibakusha – survivors of the 1945 nuclear explosions – to better understand how they survived and continued to live.
TidsskriftCritical Military Studies
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)428-442
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - 1 nov. 2022

ID: 289160216