Identity and Fanaticism

Saturday, March 1, 2014
2:30-4:30 pm

Past Event

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?


Chip Gagnon

Associate Professor of Politics at Ithaca College

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… read more »

Elise Giuliano

Lecturer in Political Science at Columbia University and Columbia’s Harriman Institute

Elise Giuliano is a political scientist at Columbia University where she teaches courses on secession and nationalism, Russian politics, and international relations. She is the academic advisor to graduate students at Columbia’s Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies. Prof. Giuliano’s research focuses on the intersection of politics and identity. Her book—Constructing Grievance:… read more »

Liah Greenfeld

University Professor and Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and Anthropology, Boston University

Liah Greenfeld is University Professor and Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and Anthropology, Boston University and is the author, among other publications, of Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity, The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth, and Mind, Modernity, Madness: The Impact of Culture on Human Experience (Harvard University Press, 1992, 2001, 2013), which form… read more »

Leora Kahn

Founder and president of PROOF: Media for Social Justice

Leora Kahn is founder and president of PROOF: Media for Social Justice.   She works on global projects with Amnesty International and the United Nations. Her 2007 book Darfur: 20 years of War and Genocide has won several awards and an exhibition of this work is traveling in the US under the auspices of the… read more »

Nathan M. Szajnberg

Wallerstein Research Fellow in Psychoanalysis, San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis

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);… read more »

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