Past Meetup

Helix Center: Identity and Fanaticism Panel Discussion

This Meetup is past

30 people went


Identity and Fanaticism

Chip GagnonElise GiulianoLeora KahnNathan Szajnberg Saturday, March 1, 2014, 2:30 - 4:30 pm The Marianne & Nicholas Young Auditorium 247 East 82nd Street, NYC Free and open to the public To register, click HERE or visit

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"I have specially in mind that a small but determined group, active in every nation, composed of individuals who, indifferent to social considerations and restraints, regard warfare, the manufacture and sale of arms, simply as an occasion to advance their personal interests and enlarge their personal authority."

But recognition of this obvious fact is merely the first step towards an appreciation of the actual state of affairs. Another question follows hard upon it: how is it possible for this small clique to bend the will of the majority, who stand to lose and suffer......?"--Einstein to Freud, Why War?

"...Here, I believe, we already have all the essentials: violence overcome by the transference of power to a larger unity, which is held together by emotional ties between its members."--Freud to Einstein, Why War?

What are the processes and influences-e.g., biological, developmental, social-that transform individuals into members of a group? When is ethnic, religious, national or other group identity no longer affiliation, but fanaticism?

Participants: Chip Gagnon is Associate Professor of Politics at Ithaca College, and a long-time Visiting Scholar at Cornell University's Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science, with a focus on International Relations, from Columbia University, where he also received certificates in Soviet/Russian Studies and East European Studies. He is author of numerous articles as well as The Myth of Ethnic War: Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s (Cornell University Press, 2004), which was the winner of the American Political Science Association's award for Best Book on European Politics and Society, and co-winner of the Council for European Study's Best First Book Award. More recently he co-edited a volume, Post-Conflict Studies: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Routledge, forthcoming July 2014) based on a series of workshops he organized at Cornell University. His research has focused on violence that is framed as ethnic, in particular the ways in which such violence is often the result of an elite strategy of demobilization. A related research interest is the way in which elites construct threatening images of the outside world as a domestic political resource. Another research project focuses on the concept of religious missionary work as a way to understand democracy promotion and other secular forms of international intervention, focusing in particular on the Balkans. Elise Giuliano is Lecturer in Political Science at Columbia University and Columbia's Harriman Institute. She is the author of Constructing Grievance: Ethnic Nationalism in Russia's Republic. Her academic focus is on international relations and foreign policy, ethnic nationalism in Russia, and Islamic identity and political mobilization in Russia. She received her honors B.A. in Russian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and both her honors M.A. in International Relations and her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago. Leora Kahn is Executive Director of PROOF: Media for Social Justice. A photo editor for over 25 years, in 2006, she and a group of internationally known photojournalists decided to combine their skills and experience to make an impact in the world. PROOF was born six months later. She was previously the director of photography at Workman Publishing and at Corbis. She has also worked for Time,The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and US News and World Report as well as for the Ford and Annie E. Casey Foundations. She has curated exhibitions for the Ford Foundation, ABC Television, Amnesty International, Women's Refugee Commission, and the Holocaust Museum in Houston. Her film credits include "Rene and I," an award-winning documentary about the life of an extraordinary woman who, as a child, was experimented on by Josef Mengele during the Holocaust. She also co-produced "Original Intent," a documentary exploring the judicial philosophy promoted by Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Ms. Kahn was previously a fellow at the Genocide Studies Center at Yale University where she conducted research on rescuers and rescuing behavior. She was the Cathy Cohen Lasry Visiting Lecturer at Clark University's Holocaust and Genocide Center. She is a recipient of The Adriane de Rothschild Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship and is a Fulbright Senior Specialist. Nathan Szajnberg is the Wallerstein Research Fellow in Psychoanalysis of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, on the Faculty at New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and formerly Freud Professor of Psychoanalysis at the Hebrew University. He is the author or editor of four books and one novella: Educating the Emotions (on Bruno Bettelheim's ideas); Lives Across Time (with Henry Massie); Reluctant Warriors (the maturation and inner lives of elite Israeli soldiers) and Sheba and Solomon's Return: Ethiopian Children in Israel (the foundational study for this roundtable). He studied at the University of Chicago College and Medical School, where his teachers included Bruno Bettelheim and Saul Bellow. He graduated from the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute. He is a Training Analyst of the Israel Psychoanalytic Society and IPA.