Please note that there are two different conference venues:
June 14/15 - Century City Conference Centre
June 16 - Kirstenbosch Conference Centre (transportation available)
Wednesday, June 14 • 10:45 - 12:15
Plenary Hot Topic Debate Panel "Is Resilience Futile? Adaptation in Contexts of Structural and Social Disadvantage" - Amarnath Amarasingam, Sarah Thomas de Benitez, Lane Benjamin, Sandy Lazarus

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Plenary Hot Topic Debate Panel
Topic: Is Resilience Futile? Adaptation in Contexts of Structural and Social Disadvantage
Panelists: Amarnath Amarasingam, Sarah Thomas de Benitez, Lane Benjamin, Sandy Lazarus
Facilitator: Michael Ungar

The Post-War Struggles of Former Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka
Speaker: Amarnath Amarasingam (Resilience Research Centre, Canada)
As the war in Sri Lanka came to an end, hundreds of former militants were rounded up and placed in prisons and rehabilitation centers. Many of these fighters have now been released but they continue to struggle with government surveillance, lack of reintegration, and lack of social trust. While resilience is a useful framework to understand the post-war struggles of former militants, this presentation will argue that broader structural conditions need to be taken more into account. The notion of individual and community resilience needs to be placed within the broader context of historical, political and religious conflict. 

Child resilience in public spaces: how can we enable street-connected children to protect themselves from sexual exploitation and abuse?
Speaker: Sarah Thomas de Benitez (Consortium for Street Children, UK)
From my rights-based perspective, resilience is a useful concept for designing support services that enable street-connected children to gain access to their legal human rights, including their right to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Resilience challenges two other perspectives that have dominated policy and programme approaches to children in street situations:
  • A welfare-based one that seeks to rescue the child victim from the streets
  • A reform-based one that aims to rehabilitate the delinquent street child.
I will draw on 25+ years of experience including: Local NGO and international network leadership positions; Academic research in social policy; and UN consultancies – to argue that resilience is a helpful tool for empowerment work with street-connected children and for challenging world views about ‘street children’.

Resilience under threat: Conceptualising resilience in a violent, urban communit
Speaker: Lane Benjamin (CASE, South Africa)
Resilience in the face of ongoing adversity has received little attention in the developing world. The rate of interpersonal violence in South Africa is amongst the highest in the world, with poorer communities bearing the brunt of the violence. Research on resilience is also borne out of western constructs and definitions of this term. The challenge is to find the balance between highlighting important social issues and explaining the negative effects of violence and oppression while giving voice to those who are silenced and how they conceptualise resilience in individuals and communities. The intensity and frequency of interpersonal violence is seen as maladaptations or a form of negative resilience in response to surviving in an environment that is continuously threatening to those who live in it. Conversely positive resilience is constructed as a conscious form of self-awareness, promoting positive health, connection and challenging the status quo. 

Can promoting resilience address community violence?
Speaker: Sandy Lazarus (Medical Research Council, South Africa)
Is resilience futile, particularly in contexts of structural and social disadvantage? My response to this debate is ‘no, but …’, a position that reveals a belief in the capacity of individuals and communities to respond positively to challenging life events and structural adversity, and the value of promoting both individual and community resilience. However, the ‘but’ response is a recognition that personal and community well-being is difficult to maintain in contexts of oppression, extended trauma and structural constraints, and that the promotion of resilience without a critical analysis and agenda can support harmful adaptation to injustices. The motivation for this position emerges from my personal lens on personal and community development, and draws on research experiences of violence prevention and safety and peace promotion at community level. The research process and findings shared focus on identifying and mobilising community strengths or assets for the purposes of pursuing action to prevent violence through building a safe and peaceful community. 

avatar for Dr. Michael Ungar

Dr. Michael Ungar

Founder and Director, Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University
Michael Ungar, Ph.D., is a Family Therapist and Professor of Social Work at DalhousieUniversity where he holds a national Research Chair in Child, Family and CommunityResilience. His research on resilience around the world and across cultures has made him one ofthe best-known scholars... Read More →

avatar for Amarnath Amarasingam

Amarnath Amarasingam

Amarnath Amarasingam is a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University. He is the author of Pain, Pride, and Politics: Sri Lankan Tamil Activism in Canada (University of Georgia Press... Read More →
avatar for Sarah Thomas de Benitez

Sarah Thomas de Benitez

Sarah Thomas de Benitez is one of the world’s leading researchers on issues facing street connected children, and is a part time adviser to the organisation. Sarah was the Director and Co-founder of two organisations in Ecuador and Mexico, has advised the UN on street children... Read More →
avatar for Lane Benjamin

Lane Benjamin

Lane grew up during the Apartheid era in Cape Town’s colored township of Mitchell’s Plain, which stood in dramatic contrast to the “Whites only” suburb where she attended a private school. Born to service-minded parents, this contrast between home and school life proved to... Read More →

Wednesday June 14, 2017 10:45 - 12:15 SAST
Hall A/B Century City Conference Centre