Who We Are
Board of Directors
of Guardians, Gardeners, and Global Dignifiers

Evelin G. Lindner (Founding President) | Linda M. Hartling (Director) | Richard Slaven (Business Director) | Anne Wyatt-Brown | Bertram Wyatt-Brown | Ulrich Spalthoff | Eric Van Grasdorff | Victoria C. Fontan | Maggie O'Neill | Grace Feuerverger | Arie Nadler | Michael F. Britton| Donald C. Klein

 

Who We Are: Global Appreciative Nurturing Team
Annette Anderson-Engler
Judit Révész
Brian Ward

 

Who We Are: Global Advisory Board of Guardians, Gardeners, and Global Digifniers

Global Advisory Board

Who We Are: Global Teams of Guardians, Gardeners, and Global Dignifiers

Global Core Team | Global Research Team | Global Education Team | Global Intervention Teams
Global Coordinating Team | Global IT Team | Global DigniFunding Team
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Introduction | History | Mission Statement | Call for Creativity | Welcome to Newcomers
Videos | Collection of Quotes
Short Definition of Humiliation | Eliminating Humiliation | Larger Sociological Context | Possible Futures
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Growing Our Work Together
Create Equal Dignity Dialogue Groups!
The Joy of Growing Together: How You Can Contribute
Announcing Our New Global Education Fund

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Who We Are: A Brief Overview




This was our foundational conference, in 2003 in Paris



Short introduction
Integrating our academicians and reflective practitioners
Walking the talk & appreciative approach
The role of humiliation
Our HumanDHS organizational vision
Our HumanDHS global network
HumanDHS's Research, Education, and Intervention
Our challenges
Our achievements
Our vision for the future
Our financial situation
How can you participate?
HumanDHS wish list for support
What differentiates our various teams and what do they share?


 

Short introduction

We, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS), are a global and transdisciplinary network and fellowship of concerned academics and practitioners. We are committed to reducing - and ultimately help eliminating - destructive disrespect and humiliating practices all over the world. Our work is inspired by universal values such as dignity, humility, mutual respect, caring and compassion, and a sense of shared planetary rights and responsibilities.

We are first and foremost a global network of people with the aim of raising awareness and creating framings and visions that promote equal dignity for all. We wish to fertilize and generate transdisciplinary research (both intra and interculturally) and disseminate information aimed at enhancing awareness of human dignity. We also encourage the application of creative educational methods and strategies, as well as fertilize more to-the-point intervention projects and public policy planning. Thus we work in four ways, firstly as a global network, secondly in research, thirdly in education, and fourthly with intervention. We address all levels, micro, meso, and macro levels.On 24th June 2011, we began the process of lifting our research and education activities on a more concrete level and launched the World Dignity University Initiative.

Since we are a global network, the boundaries are fluid. We warmly invite all like-minded people to contribute. Please see our Call for Creativity. Our members do not "subscribe to" or "endorse" everything that is happening within HumanDHS. Everybody is called upon to contribute at best ability. We hope that the synergy that emerges from all contributions will facilitate new insights and action.


Read more about this video here

HumanDHS is primarily grounded in academic work. However, we wish to bring academic work into "real life." We therefore invite like-minded academicians and practitioners into our network, accomplished or beginners, all people who wish to embark on the same path with us: please see our Welcome to Newcomers. Our research focuses on topics such as dignity (with humiliation as its violation), or, more precisely, on respect for equal dignity for all human beings in the world. This is not only our research topic, but also our core value, in line with Article 1 of the Human Rights Declaration that states that every human being is born with equal dignity (that ought not be humiliated). At the core of this sentence stands equality in dignity or nondomination (Philip Pettit), or the delegitimization of the practice of ranking people into higher and lesser beings. We agree with Professor Shibley Telhami, who advocates the building of bridges from academia as follows, "I have always believed that good scholarship can be relevant and consequential for public policy. It is possible to affect public policy without being an advocate; to be passionate about peace without losing analytical rigor; to be moved by what is just while conceding that no one has a monopoly on justice." We would like to add that we believe that good scholarship can be relevant and consequential not only for public policy, but for raising awareness in general.

In the course of our work, we have developed many new terms:
Dignism - term coined by Evelin Lindner in 2012
Dignilogue - term coined by Francisco Gomes de Matos in 2012
Digniventure - term coined by Francisco Gomes de Matos in 2012
Dignicommunity - term coined by Bhante Chipamong Chowdhury in 2012
Dignifunding - term coined by Linda Hartling in 2011
Digniwords - term coined by Linda Hartling on December 14, 2012
Digniwriting - term coined by Victoria Fontan on December 14, 2012
Dignity pioneers - termed coined by Vegar Jordanger on January 28, 2013
Digniletter (for our "Take a Look" letter, it provides both informative and formative dignifying content to readers) term coined by Francisco Gomes de Matos on February 12, 2013
Dignifriend - term coined by Francisco Gomes de Matos, February 12, 2013
Digniliving - term coined by Francisco Gomes de Matos, February 5, 2013
Dignifamily - term coined by Aurobinda Mahapatra, November 14, 2013
Dignity pays dignividends (dignity dividents) - term coined by Francisco Gomes de Matos, 17th January 2014

Caveat: When we use the phrase equal dignity on this web site, we do not refer to legal practice, where this phrase is another way of saying the power of attorney: "A written document in which one person (the principal) appoints another person to act as an agent on his or her behalf, thus conferring authority on the agent to perform certain acts or functions on behalf of the principal..." (legal-dictionary). We thank Ardian Adžanela for making us aware that we need to include this important caveat.

Sociologist Neil J. Smelser, with his value added theory (or strain theory), analyzes what is necessary for a new social movement to emerge:
1. Structural conduciveness – things that make or allow certain behaviors possible (e.g. spatial proximity).
2. Structural strain – something (inequality, injustice) must strain society.
3. Generalized belief and explanation – participants have to come to an understanding of what the problem is.
4. Precipitating factors – spark to ignite the flame.
5. Mobilization for action – people need to become organized.
6. Failure of social control –authorities not clamping down (see, e.g., Swedberg, Richard (1990). Economics and Sociology: Redefining Their Boundaries: Conversations With Economists and Sociologists. Princenton, NJ: Princeton University Press).

We, as HumanDHS, address all six points:
1. We use the structural conduciveness of the internet.
2. We react to structural strain (humiliation fueling terrorism, for example, or humiliation causing general well-being to diminish).
3. We contribute to efforts to develop a shared understanding of what the problem is (we begin with what Ray & Anderson call the Cultural Creatives).
4. We try to ignite the “flame” of dignity,
5. and mobilize action,
6. while using the inclusive approach that human rights call for.

On this website, and in our work, we attempt to use a culture-neutral approach, as much as it is at all possible, since our scope is global. This entails that we pay the price, since we do not serve any dominant cultural preferences - see a discussion, for example, in What the World’s Cultures Can Contribute to Creating a Sustainable Future for Humankind, a paper prepared by Evelin Lindner for the 11th Annual Conference of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS), 23th June-1st July 2008, in Norway.

Morton Deutsch has formulated a pledge that you might wish to ponder:
Imagine a global human community in which you, your children, and grandchildren as well as all the others in our shared planet and their children and grandchildren:
•  … Are able to live in dignity and are treated fairly.
•  … Have freedom from the fear of violence and war and can live in peace.
• ... Have freedom from want so that you do not ever have to live in such impoverished circumstances you and your loved ones can not have adequate care, food, water, shelter, health services,education, and other necessities for physical and emotional well-being as well as a dignified life.
•  …Have freedom of information, publication, speech, beliefs, and assembly so that you can be free to be different and free to express open criticism of those in authority individually or collectively.
•  … Have the responsibility to promote, protect, and defend such freedoms as those described above for yourself as well as for others when they are denied or under threat.
• …Will work together cooperatively to make the world that their grandchildren will inherit free of such problems as war, injustice, climate change, and economic disruption.
Are you willing be a member of such a global human community? If “yes”, please make the following pledge: I pledge to promote these rights and responsibilities in my own life, in my community, and in the global community as best I can through nonviolent personal actions and working together with others.
(This pledge can be found on pp. 11-12 in the chapter "A Framework for Thinking about Developing a Global Community," by Morton Deutsch, Eric C. Marcus, and Sarah Brazaitis, in Peter T. Coleman and Morton Deutsch (eds.), The Psychological Components of Sustainable Peace, Springer Press, 2012)


 

Integrating our academicians and reflective practitioners

The following three paragraphs are authored by Donald Klein (in a personal message to Lindner, December 1, 2004); the rest of the text is continuously being developed by Lindner, starting from first drafts in 2003.

There are those, such as Lois Holtzman and colleagues at the East Side Institute who believe that "thought" is inherent in performance and that, indeed, performance is the most effective way to mobilize thinking. In other words, they decry the dichotomy between thought and practice. Although I may not be as extreme in my view, I, too, have noted that academic work rarely incorporates the considerations that must be included if application is to be effective. Another way of looking at it is that the dichotomy between academic research and practice is contrived. Actually we are dealing with two kinds of practice (or performance): (1) academic inquiry, which is its own kind of "practice" and (2) application (usually referred to as "practice"). Academic research thus can be seen as a way to focus further research (which is the kind of practice that academicians are usually involved in).

A colleague of mine (Kenneth Benne) from some years ago used to advocate a whole new "practice" which he called "research into application." Here is where the studies of the dissemination of knowledge probably fit. The field with which I identify (Applied Behavioral Science) is located within the area of applied research, namely, how to apply what we know to real life situations. It is within ABS that action research emerged as one of the most productive ways to merge theory building and application within the same research enterprise.

All of which suggests that in the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network we have the unique challenge of integrating our academicians and reflective practitioners within a single interrelated set of members.


 

Framing principles for our work: Unity in Diversity, walking the talk, appreciative approach or or "waging good conflict" (Jean Baker Miller's coinage)

Research shows the important effect of "framing." In experiments, when players are asked to play the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game as a "community game," they tend to cooperate, while players who think they are playing a "Wallstreet game" tend to cheat. Although the structure of the game is identical, the mere difference in the label has a profound effect upon whether or not players cooperate.

We wish to work for more dignity (thus transcending humiliation) and believe that the principle of Unity in Diversity represents a dignifying framing. We wish to promote more cooperative unity and AT THE SAME TIME more enriching diversity (thus steering clear of uniform unity as much as of divisive diversity, thus using the Unity in Diversity principle as a win-win frame, not as a zero-sum frame). To use music as a metaphor, there would be no orchestra if every musician were forced to play only the violin. For an orchestra, Unity in Diversity is not just an optional principle, it is its fundament: Unity (playing together) in Diversity (with different instruments). Likewise, it can be argued that Unity in Diversity is also the fundament for the survival of humankind. In the case of biodiversity, this is acknowledged (if not always in practice, so at least as idea), while it seems to be difficult to grasp in the case of cultural diversity (the need for unity is still widely interpreted as a need for uniformity, while many of those who wish to increase diversity believe that this can only be achieved through confrontational division).

We think that this can be made operational by applying the Subsidiarity Principle (matters are handled by the smallest or lowest competent authority, a principle applied, for example, by the European Union). This, in turn, can be made operational, we believe, by Walking the Talk or the Appreciative Approach of "Waging good Conflict" (Jean Baker Miller's coinage). We are convinced that this is valid for global and local institutions and organisations as much as for how we construct our identity (and even our brain works in this fashion, by using hierarchies of loops), and not least for our own HumanDHS work.

Since we believe that it is important for all of us to walk the talk, we wish to invite people into our group who are willing and able to promote our mission to embed our network's vastly diverse approaches to our topic into a cooperative relational spirit of humility and mutual support and respect (please see Relationship Tips developed by Judith Jordan, and Linda Hartling, at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute in 2006). Competitive and adversarial behavioral styles that draw their strength from dominating and humiliating others have no room in our work. We wish to encourage "selfless leadership" and would wish to avoid including in our group autocratic "big-ego" styles. (Peter Drucker called for organizations to function like orchestras. See Concept of the Corporation - With a New Introduction by the Author, published online by Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NJ, in 1993; originally published in 1946 by John Day Company)

The overall framework for our work that we hold to be important is that we wish to work for and not against, namely for equal dignity for all. And, even though we aim at raising awareness for the destructive consequences of cycles of humiliation and the suffering of people who are being exposed to humiliating treatment, we do not wish to engage in humiliating humiliators, which would merely turn the spiral of humiliation further. We rather wish to promote respectful approaches also to humiliators and the non-violent humbling of humiliators.

We call our approach the "appreciative approach" or "waging good conflict." We aim at creating a humiliation-free, collaborative environment characterized by mutual respect, mutual empathy, and openness to difference. We believe that conflict can only be waged in a good way (as described by Jean Baker Miller), if it is embedded into mutual appreciation. We wish to refrain from engaging in inefficient monologuous "loudspeaker communication." We wish to resist the widespread misconception that appreciation forecloses clarity.

Hans Blix formulated a list of adjectives that would be desirable for the conduct of an inspector. This list fleshes out the concept of walking the talk:
•  Driving and dynamic – but not angry and aggressive
•  Firm – but correct
•  Ingenious – but not deceptive
•  Somewhat flexible – but not to be pushed around
•  Calm – but somewhat impatient
•  Keeping some distance – but not arrogant or pompous
•  Friendly – but not cozy
•  Show respect for those you deal with – and demand respect for yourself
•  A light tone or a joke may sometimes break a nervous atmosphere.
- Hans Blix, quoted from http://www.un.org/. See also page 52 in Hans Blix (2004), Disarming Iraq: The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction, London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Please see also:
•  Is it Possible to "Change the World"? Some Guidelines to How We Can Build a More Decent and Dignified World Effectively: The Case of Dignifying Abusers, by Lindner, 2006.
•  See also Creating We, by Judith Glaser, Platinum Press, 2005.
•  Appreciative Nurturing (AE), a text in the process of being written collectively.
•  Appreciative Leadership in Our HumanDHS Network: The Tree - Job Descriptions!
by Michael Britton, 2008)


 

The role of humiliation

The horrific events on September 11, 2001, in the United States shook and horrified the world. Terrorists acted as ultimate humiliators. Taking down the World Trade Center's Twin Towers was a cruel message of humiliation. History offers innumerous other examples of atrocious outcomes of cycles of humiliation. It is common knowledge to assume that World War II was triggered, at least partly, by the humiliation that the Versailles Treaties inflicted on Germany after the First World War. The urge to redress and avert humiliation powered Hitler and provided him with followers. War and Holocaust were the result.

Yet, cycles of humiliation do not only mar international and national peace. Organizational and private life is affected as much. Bullying and harassment, for example, entail much of the same logic. Not least ethnic and gender relations are beset with acts and feelings of humiliation. Even intrapersonal dynamics can be deeply shaped by processes of humiliation, for example, when I treat myself condescendingly. Macro, meso, and micro level are thus fields for humiliation studies.

Globalization is central to newly emerging feelings of humiliation. As soon as people move closer to each other, expectations rise and disappointments are bound to occur. Human rights ideals with their notion of dignity and respect are equally deeply interlinked with the concept of humiliation. The first sentence in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." Thus, the central human rights message stipulates that every human being has an inner core of dignity that ought not to be humiliated.

Wherever the human rights message is heard and accepted by people around the globe, people feel that their humanity is being humiliated whenever their dignity is violated or soiled. Human rights ideals squarely oppose hierarchical rankings of human worthiness that once were regarded as "normal" - and still are "normal" in many parts of the world. In the cross-fire between both paradigms, particularly hot feelings of humiliation emerge.

Current analysis of terror and violence, both in their local and global expressions, usually lacks the element of humiliation. If not pure unfathomable evil, then poverty, deprivation, or marginalization are often pinpointed as driving people into terrorist activities or other forms of violence, somehow automatically. However, why do we then see well-to-do and highly educated terrorists organizing and perpetrating atrocities? Why do poverty, deprivation, marginalization, ethnic incompatibilities, or even conflict of interest and struggles over scarce resources sometimes lead to cooperation and innovation and only sometimes to violence? When there is too little bread, we may share and not fight. Thus, all so-called "hard" explanations for violence and war may falter, because at times the very same conditions lead to innovative peaceful solutions instead of violent confrontation.

Humiliation is maybe the "missing link" that explains why conditions at times are perceived as illegitimate violations justifying counter-violence, at other times not, and why wealthy people may organize and perpetrate terror. It is perhaps possible to claim that humiliated hearts and minds are the only "real" weapons of mass destruction, particularly in a globalized and interdependent world that embraces the human rights ideals of equal dignity for all.

It seems timely and urgent to focus on the phenomenon of humiliation and the prevention and alleviation of its destructive outcomes. The phenomenon of humiliation should be studied, prevented, mitigated and healed in the context of globalization and human rights, culture differences and inter-group conflict, cooperation and violence, competition and negotiation, and power and trust.


 

Our HumanDHS organizational vision

Whoever wishes to build a new world, has to be very cautious with old solutions. This caution is not optional, but compulsory, if novelty is to have a chance. "In times of change, the learners inherit the world, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" (Eric Hoffer).

Our vision is to help build a world where every human being can live a dignified life. Our vision is Unity in Diversity, or more precisely, we wish to work for more unity and at the same time for more diversity. We believe that diversity is only dignifying as long as it is embedded into the unity of shared goals. We do not believe in global uniformity, nor in divisive diversity.

This has many implications for how we shape the organizational structure of our network. Let us address some, 1. locality versus globality, 2. heart versus money, 3. prevention & advocacy versus therapy, 4. day-to-day campaigning, and 5. hierarchical structures and titles.

1. Locality versus globality:
One of those implications is that we are bound to give primacy to our membership in one single human family and our shared responsibility for our tiny home planet, and put this global human identity before any other identity markers. Many of our members subscribe to the identity of global citizens: they put the humanity that they share with all human beings before any national allegiance, while cherishing and promoting all diversity that nourishes this shared humanity. Wherever our members subscribe and register, many do so as "global citizens with strong local anchorings."

If we wish to express this vision in our organizational structure, inherently, we need to avoid being defined by divisive local and national interests that oppose the interests of all global citizens, while at the same time avoiding global uniformity.

Yet, how can this be expressed organizationally? So far, most organizations in this world are framed within national boundaries. It is difficult to transcend those boundaries. For the status of a non-for-profit organization, for example, we would like to submit our application to a democratic Unity-in-Diversity World Government that works for the global village to be a Decent Global Village and not a ramshackle global village (Avishai Margalit defines a decent society as a society with institutions that do not humiliate their citizens). However, such a Global Village Government is precisely what is lacking. We therefore have no choice but to maintain a balancing act in staying as global as we can, while using local affiliations only as much as they support our vision. We therefore attempt to build our network as a truly global network, not even as an inter-"national" network, because we wish to transcend nationality. We wish to highlight the individual citizen of this global village, its men and women and their dignity, and not force them into group categorizations.

We furthermore do not want to replicate the limits of nationality by creating headquarters or national centers. What we can have are perhaps regional centers. However, since we also wish to avoid wasting resources on office space, we can define each person, wherever she is, as one of our centers.

There is a desire, among human beings, to make things "tangible" in order to achieve a sense of security. However, as much as the mere fact of being married does not "secure" the quality of the relationship between the spouses, also the fact that there is an office does not mean that the organization who owns the office does good work. We, in our HumanDHS context, wish to highlight this fact. Merely taking the marriage certificate, or the presence of an office as "proof" that something "tangible" is there, is tantamount to creating a false sense of security. We wish to face the fact that, if we want to create a new quality of relationships at micro, meso, and macro levels, we must face the fluidity of relationships, the fact that relationships need continuous nurturing in an atmosphere of freedom and loving respect, and cannot be "tied down" (see more reflections, for example, in Weak Ties Can Further Social Peace).

We therefore consider our network to be anchored globally, wherever our members are based, in their respective organizational and institutional context. We have the non-for-profit status in New York State, however, we invite our members to apply for this status for us all over the world. Our Global Virtual Coordinating Team nurtures and coordinators our work, together with our Board of Directors, Global Core Team, Global Advisory Board, Education Team, Research Team, and our Intervention Teams.


2. Heart versus money:
There are more aspects to this balancing act. For example, we need to always keep our enthusiasm and love in the first place, allowing funding never to become motivator number one. If money were to become our main motivator, our work would disintegrate, since our vision to nurture dignity would be violated at its core. As soon as money comes first for a person, s/he can no longer promote our work: heart is not optional, it is at the core of our endeavor.


3. Prevention & advocacy versus therapy:
Some of the people who visit our website are looking for therapy or other services to help heal individual experiences of humiliation. When we learn that abuse has taken place (entailing humiliation, for example), we find ourselves feeling moved by the suffering of the person who is contacting us and want very much for them to receive help to achieve the better place in life they so rightly are seeking for themselves. 

As a network, however, we had to confront the question of whether we are in a position to provide that kind of help, either as a network or as individual representatives of the network on the coordinating team. We realized that we as a network have very definite limitations in terms of energy and resources, and that we could easily lose focus on the primary mission of the network, which from the first has been our commitment to fostering social and cultural change. Our efforts and energy are directed toward changing the social and cultural conditions that lead to and perpetuate humiliating practices. We don't have the resources to do this and also provide individual therapy. Therefore, in responding to people who have very real and very legitimate needs for therapy, we have to be clear that Human DHS does not offer therapy or referral services. While this can be painful for us, and for the person who approaches us for help, the mission we have undertaken at Human DHS is the confrontation of abuse, rankism and the humiliation endemic to it, on the historical scale. We are working for a different world. We therefore entrust to others the task of helping the victims of this world as it is today to become freed of its debilitating effects, while we are taking on the conditions - the cultural and institutional structures - that condone and perpetuate abuse.  Although it is our objective to respond to all who are interested in the network with care, we are concentrating our energy on advancing large-scale efforts to prevent and end humiliating practices. Therefore, we encourage those who have suffered individual experiences of humiliation to seek appropriate therapeutic services through other professional organizations and social services in their communities.

To put it another way, our work has taught us that we cannot achieve our goals by attempting to heal individual cases of humiliation. That will only leave the structures intact that will create still more victims. Therefore, we, as a HumanDHS network, have chosen to lovingly redirect individual victims of humiliation to seek other services with appropriate care providers in their communities. We owe it to our overall aim to keep our energy and resources focused on social and cultural change.

By way of sharing with you some history as to how this view was arrived at, Evelin worked as a clinical psychologist until 1991, helping wounded souls recover from their wounds. What she saw and heard, made her feel there an urgent need to change the larger systems that were producing wounded souls in the first place. She changed her focus toward addressing the conditions that make abuse possible, in order to influence those conditions and diminish - and ultimately eradicate - humiliating conditions and practices.

As a network we respectfully leave it to those who work to help the wounded recover, while we do a different part of the overall task, we work to prevent the creation of more victims in the future.

We would be thankful for any help to compile a list of relevant therpeutic approaches on our World Therapy for Equal Dignity page.

4. Day-to-day campaigning:
Our aim is not to become a political group that engages in day-to-day campaigning. We would like to make an effort to work in a more long-term fashion and above fault lines. As a network, we cannot sign petitions or declarations, however, we wish to encourage our members to get active wherever they see fit. Please see also our Intervention Ideas (including our declarations page), as one way for our members to address specific issues that are related to dignity and humiliation.

Note also: The views expressed on this website, as in any of the HumanDHS publications, do not represent any official HumanDHS position. All HumanDHS publications present the views and research findings of the individual authors, with the aim of promoting the development of ideas and discussion about major concerns of human dignity and humiliation studies and related fields.

5. Hierarchical structures and titles:
Since we wish to "walk the talk" and express equality in dignity also in our organizational procedures and structure, we are particularly careful with titles that emphasize hierarchy. We wish to highlight functional hierarchy (the pilot of a plane needs to be the boss!), but avoid unecessarily essentializing hierarchy.
•  Linda Hartling recommends the following book as background reading: Barbara Pachter, and Susan Magee (2000). The Power of Positive Confrontation. New York, NY: MJF Books.
•  Please see also:
•  Evelin's query and Michael Britton's and Brian Ward's reflections
•  "The End of the Organization?" by Michael C. Gilbert, in Nonprofit Online News, February 7th, 2008.


 

Our HumanDHS global network

The Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies group addresses the challenges of studying, preventing and healing humiliation. We wish to contribute to a large-scale, world-wide paradigm shift that moves our world towards more dignified lives for everybody (see, for example, our Decent Global Society page). The Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies group is anchored globally.
We have four Agendas:

  • Building a Global Network, including Annual Conferences for mutual enrichment, support, and the generation of ideas that fertilize our research, education and intervention agendas
  • Research, so as to study the phenomenon of humiliation and better understand it
  • Education, so as to disseminate research findings
  • Intervention, so as to prevent and heal humiliation

The initiator of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies is Evelin Gerda Lindner, who is a cross-cultural social psychologist and physician. She holds Ph.D.s in both medicine and psychology. In 1996, she designed a research project on the concept of humiliation and its role in genocide and war. From 1997-2001, she carried out this research, interviewing over 200 people who were either implicated in or knowledgeable about the genocides in Rwanda, Somalia, and Nazi Germany.

Lindner does not wish to dominate HumanDHS with her work, but wishes to develop HumanDHS as a platform for a wide variety of approaches to the topic of dignity (and humiliation as its violation). Her approach is selfless leadership and the diffusion of leadership tasks in the HumanDHS network. "Walking the talk," i.e. building an arena where all participants enjoy respect for equal dignity, is central to HumanDHS's work.


 

HumanDHS's Research, Education, and Intervention

Our activities are designed to move forward in three areas:

1. Research that increases understanding of the nature of the humiliation dynamic, destructive outcomes resulting from humiliating strategies and tactics, and factors contributing to its use in international affairs.

2. Education of both children and adults that both increase understanding of the negative consequences of humiliation and generate support of alternative approaches that promote human dignity.

3. Interventions that promote the use of appreciative and affirming approaches in interpersonal, intergroup and not least in international relations so as to promote an increased sense of global community.

HumanDHS is network of scholars, researchers and practitioners that is independent of any ideological, religious, political, or material agenda. At the core of our work is the use of transdisciplinary approaches for generating and disseminating knowledge about human dignity and humiliation. We are committed to a wide range of knowledge creation and dissemination, from shifts in awareness and practice at the local micro-level to larger changes at the level of the global community.

Since we are a global network, we do not engage in activities as an organization. Instead, we wish to develop our global network and website as a platform for opportunities for whoever resonates with our vision and desires to contribute to bringing it to life. In the spirit of this vision, we hope to nurture an organic growth of our activities, by inspiring the creativity, passion, and dedication of our members. We need new solutions - after all, humankind faces new challenges - and therefore we need to be cautious with old solutions and old expertise. By keeping our vision of equal dignity for all humankind at the center, we trust that new sets of skills and solutions will grow out of this orientation.


 

Our challenges

Please let us begin this section with some quotes highlighting the challenge entailed in keeping up momentum in the face of slow progress or even setbacks:

David Crystal writes (in Creating a World of Languages):
There comes a point, in any campaign, when 'campaign fatigue' sets in. It typically arrives a decade after the launch, when the originators have used up most of their energy – and probably most of their money – in launching the campaign, when they have come to realize that not everyone in the world shares their vision, and when the real size of the task facing them has become evident.

Mario Osava reports from Rio de Janeiro about The World Social Forum (in The Risks Posed by Success, 2005):
The World Social Forum could become a victim of its own success, as loud calls for translating ideas and talk into action and practical results threaten to generate divisions and frustration. Portuguese Nobel literature laureate Jos Saramago expressed that tension when he called for turning the World Social Forum (WSF) into an instrument for action based on concrete proposals and ideas with broad support, rather than a Mecca for an annual pilgrimage by the Left to engage in discussions and debates on utopias.

Byron Bland, Brenna Powell, and Lee D. Ross write (in Building a Peace Constituency for the Achievement and Implementation of a Peace Agreement in the Middle East, 2004):
Political engagement between the two sides following Oslo succeeded in producing unprecedented consensus about the need for, and the broad outlines of, a Middle East peace agreement. Nevertheless, in the face of dashed hopes and failed expectations, the level of enmity and distrust between the two parties has never been greater.

The story of the World Court represents another example. It has its origins in the enthusiasm of a small group of American peace activists, who thought that nations, in order to settle conflicts with other nations, should have the opportunity go to court instead of having to go to war. However, since accepting the verdict of a court requires considerable humility, humility in the face of this institution, and humility in face of the common interest of all, the World Court soon faced aggressive opposition, not least from citizens from the same country that had initiated it.

These quotes highlight the challenge entailed in keeping up momentum in the face of slow progress or even setbacks. It seems that creating hope entails considerable traps. Staying on track for short periods oftime is comparatively easy, however, staying on track in the face of long-term setbacks is not. More so, disappointment and frustration might even destroy the very basis of a movement and blacken the most worthy ideas and visions.

In our HumanDHS network, we as our aim to stay poised in the long term and not engage in creating short-term expectations fueled by high enthusiasm, only to descend in quick burn-out and impatient mutual finger-pointing when progress is slow. Our aim is to keep calm and steady and stay independent of quick wins and sudden set-backs. We wish to keep up awareness that historic transitions usually take time and that set-backs are to be expected.


 

Our achievements

• We are now more than 1000 personally invited members, and our website is being accessed by ca. 40 000 people from more than 180 countries per year. Until 2008, only Evelin Lindner (Founding President of HumanDHS) dedicated all her lifetime to this work. Since November 2008, also Linda Hartling (Director of HumanDHS) has decided to follow suit. She, together with her husband Rick, has developed the first HumanDHS Dialogue Homes, in Oregon.
Our website is accessible around the world and we continuously receive reactions from all over the world. Our website has gained top ranking by Google. If one searches for "Humiliation Studies", the number one search result is www.humiliationstudies.org. Also, when searching for "Human Dignity", our site comes up as number three (as of May 9, 2010). This is not by chance, but is achieved because Google's page ranking algorithm detected that the site contains very relevant content and that www.humiliationstudies.org is cited very often by other websites, thus indicating the high reputation of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network.
A daily increasing number of papers is being posted on the publications page of our website discussing aspects of humiliation.
We have an ever increasing Global Board of Advisors, and our Global Core Team, Research Team, and Education Team are ever expanding.
• We have a Research Initiative, with large global research projects in the pipeline. More and more researchers include the topic of dignity/humiliation in their work, see, for example, Jennifer Goldman, who defended her doctorate at Columbia University in 2007, Vegar Jordanger, who stimulates research at Trondheim University, or Lynne Edwards, who creates a Napier HumanDHS Group.
• We have an Education Initiative, where we work on developing e-learning.
• Good news for our Office Cockpit Project! We have a Director and Coordinator! Please welcome Ulrich Spalthoff, supported by Sigurd Støren!
• We began developing a Business Initiative.
• We have a Journal of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (first issue March 2007).
• We have two major conferences each year.
A substantial number of of papers has been presented in our conferences.
• See the video of Evelin G. Lindner's introductory lectures on dignity and humiliation at the Department of Psychology at the University in Oslo in January 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013 (search for "Lindner").
See Lindner's book Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict evelin/book/01.php evelin/book/02.php: This book has been honored as "path-breaking book" and "Outstanding Academic Title" by the journal Choice in 2007.
• We have the Special Issue of Social Alternatives, "Humiliation and History in Global Perspectives" (2006).
• We have the Special Symposium Issue of Experiments in Education, "Humiliation in the Academic Setting" (2008).
The 2006 SBAP Award for Applied Psychology was awarded to HumanDHS and its founder
We are the only international, collaborative organization dedicated to examining the experience of humiliation.
Lindner's second book, Emotion and Conflict: How Human Rights Can Dignify Emotion and Help Us Wage Good Conflict, came out in March 2009.
• Lindner is giving lectures in a transdisciplinary approach wherever she travels, for example, 3 lectures in Oslo, Norway, in January 2010, at the University in Oslo and the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO), in (1) Anthropology, (2) Social Psychology, and (3) Peace Studies, as well as 1 lecture in Istanbul, Turkey, in April 2010, at Boğaziçi University, in Education, and 3 lectures in May 2010 in Rome, Italy, at the University La Sapienza and University Tre, in (1) Moral Philosophy, (2) Sociology, and (3) Gender Studies.
• Board member Victoria C. Fontan, published her book Voices from Post-Saddam Iraq: Living with Terrorism, Insurgency, and New Forms of Tyranny (2008)
Linda M. Hartling and Rick L. Slaven established the first Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Dialogue Home in Portland, Oregon in 2009 (Evelin was the first visitor)
• In June 2009, Evelin Lindner and the HumanDHS network received the 2009 Prisoner’s Testament Peace Award in Norway.
• In addition to being a non-for-profit in the State of New York, Rick Slaven registered HumanDHS in the State of Oregon, which allows us to do business on both coasts
The number of people who are on our email list and the number of world regions is ever increasing.
The News Section displays new information almost everyday.
evelin/book/03.php evelin/book/04.php Lindner's third book, Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security: Dignifying Relationships from Love, Sex, and Parenthood to World Affairs, came out in February 2010.
•  Lindner's fourth book, A Dignity Economy: Creating an Economy that Serves Human Dignity and Preserves Our Planet, came out in February 2012.

Status 2013:
•  An Introduction to HumanDHS, March 2013
• 
HumanDHS Good News, November 2013
•  A Quick Fact Sheet, March 2013
•  Information About Our Leadership and Collaborative Teams, March 2013
•  A Collection of Pictures, Including the Book Covers, March 2013
•  Dignity Press Flyer April 2013 (formatted so that you can print and fold it)

Bernard Hoffert, distinguished scholar from Australia, kindly commented on our work, on 19th May 2006:
"Considering violence and oppression from the broader perspective of humiliation opens a paradigm through which most aspects of culture can be viewed. The range of content brings an extraordinarily diverse group of disciplines together exploring the dimensions of this paradigm. One of the strengths of the research is that it is linked by concept rather than discipline and can therefore address knowledge which intersects laterally rather than defining it within the confines of a specific disciplinary context."


 

Our vision for the future

Who We Are:
- We regard our HumanDHS fellowship as a model and seed for an alternative and more dignified way of living together. Our vision is that we, at some point, will have proved that the "impossible" is possible, namely to create a community that is not dominated by competitive self-interest but by cooperation and mutual support, and that it is possible to do this not just locally, but globally.
- At some point soon, our vision is to have a website that is structured in a way that embodies the dignifying principle of Unity in Diversity. To achieve this, we give preeminence to our dignifying appreciative approach (Unity), while having as many of our menbers as possible contribute (Diversity).
- At some point soon, our vision is to have a cyberspace-based "nurturing centre," through which newcomers to our network are integrated into our work by our Global Coordinating Team.
- At some point in the future, our vision is to fund our work, including salaries for our full-time helpers, through our dignity-creating business projects (clothes, furniture, design, architecture, etc., see our Intervention Section).
- At some point in the future, our vision is to be a non-for-profit organization accredited everywhere in the world, or, even better, with democratic and transparent global institutions, institutions that we help promote through our work (a government of a federal world state, for example, built according to the dignifying principles of subsidiarity and Unity in Diversity locally and globally).

Research:
- At some point in the future, our vision is to have a HumanDHS branch at every university of this world.
- At some point in the future, our vision is that these branches, collectively, form the World University for Equal Dignity.
- At some point soon, our vision is to have a Country Index of Dignity and Humiliation (our activism goal) that guides countries around the world in their pbulic policies, and altogether a "thick" multi-layered qualitative and quantitative analysis of dignity and humiliation (our research goal).

Education:
- At some point soon, our vision is to have e-learning that is at the core of the World University for Equal Dignity that we envisage.
- At some point soon, our vision is to have as many of our members as possible teach on dignity and humiliation around the world, both as e-learning and in face-to-face settings.

Intervention:
- At some point in the future, our vision is to have directors/coordinators for our dignity-creating business projects (clothes, furniture, design, architecture, etc., and the other ideas listed on our Intervention Section), and have created many more ideas.
- Our vision is that the world one day is dotted with HumanDHS Dialogue Homes!
- Our vision is that one day our idea of a Peace Star at the sky is realized!


 

Our financial situation

At some point in the future, we hope to fund our work through our dignity-creating business projects (see our Intervention Section). We would like to develop some of our Intervention projects, for example, our World Clothes for Equal Dignity project or Office Cockpit project in ways that allow us to generate funding.

So far, however, all members of our group work pro bono, donating their time, and sacrificing whatever financial means they have at their disposal to develop our HumanDHS initiative.

In the future, we hope to be able to secure funding for a number of our activies:
•  Firstly we would like to support our research activities. We envisage offering scholarships for doctoral students from less-privileged world regions who research the topic of dignity and humiliation. We would also like to fund certain focused research projects, such as our Terrorism & Humiliation, and Refugees & Humiliation projects. To achieve this, we would need, for example, a fundraising committee. It has also been suggested that the researchers of the network could use HumanDHS as an umbrella organization for their own grant-seeking requests to add stature and depth to their scholarship, and that they could give HumanDHS a fee for its sponsorship and collaboration.
•  We would also like to be able to include people from all around the world into our conferences and enable those who otherwise would not be in a position to afford participation.
•  Furthermore, we need to find funding for those who help admininstrate our global network and our annual conferences. We need salaries for our full-time helpers, and adequate remuneration for our part-time contributors.

In general, we plan to develop our HumanDHS initiative in a decentralized way, a global umbrella and local sub-organizations, thus making links between the global and the local possible. In other words, our research, education and intervention groups around the world need to found (and fund) their own local sub-organizations that link up to the umbrella of the global network. These sub-organizations will be in need of various amounts of financing, according to their respective goals.

We would love arriving at a system where volunteers commit a certain number of hours per year to support our work, or, that those who wish to contribute with funding, can do so.

As mentioned above, so far, we largely work pro bono. Considerable personal sacrifices are being extended by many of our group members. Since this is often not understood, some examples are given here to illustrate this point in greater detail:

•  Eric Van Grasdorff has built this website pro bono in 2003, and is since always available to help Evelin maintaining and developing it.
•  Judit Révész works without a salary with our HumanDHS network since the idea emerged in 2001; she only received support from within our group for a few distinct items and purposes, as a sign of our group's appreciation for her daily pro bono work. Judit receives all incoming emails to our Contact page, triages them, replies, or forwards them to Evelin, Linda and other HumanDHS members.
•  The participants in our annual conferences usually pay for their travels and housing themselves.
•  For our NY Workshops on Humiliation And Violent Conflict we receive kind funding for local costs from the Alan Slifka foundation. Alan Slifka was the person who - in 2001 - encouraged Evelin Lindner to found a group/organization addressing humiliation, thus initiating the creation of our HumanDHS network.
•  Evelin Lindner works for free and donates a professor's salary each year, since 2001. She has adapted her personal life to the task of building the global HumanDHS network by living as a global citizen, supported by the HumanDHS fellowship and her personal global network of friends. This entails great personal sacrifices. She has received offers for full-time teaching positions at universities, however, she wishes to design her life in accordance with the need to build HumanDHS as a global group - "problems have no passports, and we need solutions without passports as well" is her motto. She invests all her time in developing the global HumanDHS network - by working on several hundred HumanDHS emails daily, by maintaining this website, by meeting people for the HumanDHS network, by teaching and giving lectures, and by writing (wishing to have much more time for writing).
Evelin stands up for her global citizen life, even though not having a full-time employment compels her to live on a minimum of financial resources, often much less than 10,000 USD per year. Flights and health insurance basically consume these funds and the situation requires her strictest discipline: no taxi, only public transport, no hotels, no visits to restaurants, no memberships anywhere, etc. - without her global network of friends and supporters hosting her, she would not be able to succeed with this life design.
Sometimes, Evelin receives gifts or monthly support. From 2004, until summer 2005, for example, half of the amount she needs was offered to Evelin, generously and kindly, by Ragnhild Nilsen Grødal, who, with this, intended to show her appreciation for HumanDHS and would like to encourage Evelin to continue her work, inviting others to join her. In 2007, Katrine Stabell-Hagelund generously paid into a pension fund for Evelin, who otherwise has no old-age arrangements. In 2008, Evelin's computer was financed by kind gifts from Linda Hartling, Rick Slaven, Anne Wyatt-Brown, Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Jan Smedslund, Reidar Ommundsen, Fanny Duckert, Gary Page Jones.


 

How can you participate?

Since we are a global network, our boundaries are fluid. We invite all like-minded people to join our network. With "like-minded" we mean two things: First, we wish to build a more dignified world that entails less disrespect and humiliation, and, second, we wish to live our ideals in our own lives, in our work, and, not least in the way we contribute to HumanDHS. Short, we would like to invite everybody who "walks the talk."

If you wish to contribute to our work, you do not need to "subscribe to" or "endorse" everything that is happening within HumanDHS. Everybody is called upon to contribute at best ability. We hope that the synergy that emerges from all contributions will facilitate new insights and action.

Please see our Call for Creativity.

Why should we develop a sense of global responsibility? Perhaps you would like to begin with creating Equal Dignity Dialogue Groups!

Morton Deutsch has formulated a pledge that you might wish to ponder:
Imagine a global human community in which you, your children, and grandchildren as well as all the others in our shared planet and their children and grandchildren:
•  … Are able to live in dignity and are treated fairly.
•  … Have freedom from the fear of violence and war and can live in peace.
• ... Have freedom from want so that you do not ever have to live in such impoverished circumstances you and your loved ones can not have adequate care, food, water, shelter, health services,education, and other necessities for physical and emotional well-being as well as a dignified life.
•  …Have freedom of information, publication, speech, beliefs, and assembly so that you can be free to be different and free to express open criticism of those in authority individually or collectively.
•  … Have the responsibility to promote, protect, and defend such freedoms as those described above for yourself as well as for others when they are denied or under threat.
• …Will work together cooperatively to make the world that their grandchildren will inherit free of such problems as war, injustice, climate change, and economic disruption.
Are you willing be a member of such a global human community? If “yes”, please make the following pledge: I pledge to promote these rights and responsibilities in my own life, in my community, and in the global community as best I can through nonviolent personal actions and working together with others.
(This pledge can be found on pp. 11-12 in the chapter "A Framework for Thinking about Developing a Global Community," by Morton Deutsch, Eric C. Marcus, and Sarah Brazaitis, in Peter T. Coleman and Morton Deutsch (eds.), The Psychological Components of Sustainable Peace, Springer Press, 2012)


 

HumanDHS "wish list" for support

Please let us share with you some very good news: Our Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network has grown and is flourishing very much!

We would love arriving at a system where volunteers commit a certain number of hours per year to help. We need people who identify with our shared vision, and who wish to bring their love and passion into our group and our work. We need to build a virtual office, staffed by devoted people with expertise in various fields, from answering emails in an appreciative way, to fund raising. Please see our Appreciative Nurturing (AN) text, which is in the process of being written collectively. This is a text is not finished. If you wish to contribute, please let us know!

Please, could you help us find virtual staff for our Global Coordinating Team? Perhaps you know people who are about to retire, with lots of wisdom, time, and energy, who, instead of being idle, would like to invest some years into a greater cause? Developing our global network with the aim to build a world of more dignity and less humiliation would represent such a greater cause!

Perhaps you know somebody like that, somebody who would love to commit to several years of caring contributions to our work, several hours per day?

If yes, could you perhaps share this message with him or her?!

The "wish list" describes specific activities that supporters could help us with:

•  We need a fundraising committee.

•  We need help with our conferences, see a list over our conferences.
We need support with:

• management of participant lists
• receiving and answering conference-related emails from participants
• sending out invitations, organizational emails, confirmations etc.
• taking care of conference web pages
• preparing the conference schedule
• organizing and preparing the conference venue
• organizing social events during the conference
• taking care of refreshments etc.

•  We need help with our Intervention projects. Many of these projects are currently "sleeping ideas"! Please see, for example, our World Clothes for Equal Dignity project. Companies who are already in the fashion business, might be interested! See also our World Art for Equal Dignity project, where Peter Max offers us to paint portraits and give the 20,000 - 30,000 USD remuneration to us! Please find able people who wish to have a portrait by Peter Max and donate to us what they pay for it!

•  We need help with doing research (we need more research on the phenomenon of humiliation and its relevance, for example, for public policy making).

•  We need help with our educational activies!

•  We need helpers for the day-to-day administration of our network, people who would love to commit for a longer time period, who would have ample time (like half a day per day), who would know, for example, how to write appreciative emails, and how to maintain a website!

•  We need help with uploading news that are relevant for our network on our News Section.

•  We need help with making a literature review of survey instruments relevant to human dignity and humiliation.

•  We wish to collect stories/cases/witness accounts of dignity and humiliation.

•  We wish to seed our Call to Creativity with actual examples to encourage people to submit their own achievements and ideas. We would like to use this for public and press relations and create a Call for Creativity Month, which could get some press attention (thank you dear Neala, for this idea!).

Dear future supporter! If these ideas do not really describe what you envisage, please have a look at the rest of our website (Who we are - e.g. at our Global Core Team, Global Advisory Board, Research, Education, Intervention) and let us know whether you would like to contribute to other activities.


 

What differentiates our various teams, and what do they share?

Please let us first welcome everybody who feels called to join in! You are welcome in all of our ever-growing teams!

Please let us begin with giving you a short overview over what our teams all share. We envisage our network to be a seed for a future alternative global community, together with all similar efforts others than ours, and we therefore wish to welcome like-minded people from all corners of the world into our network, people who "walk the talk." All our teams share that we wish to give eminence to relationships over "products." Giving primacy to relationships between people who walk the talk means that everything else is secondary. It means that it is ok if a new member to our network does nothing for the first twenty years or so, and, perhaps, suddenly, after twenty years, has an idea for a project that s/he wishes to contribute with to our work. In other words, "products" such as activities, tasks, etc. are secondary to building appreciative relationships among us. Therefore, becoming a member in our network "requires" walking the talk, nothing more. There are no other obligations. Walking the talk entails only to keep in mind that our network wishes to open up space for creativity, for creative ideas as to how we could promote more dignity in the world and how we could diminish humiliation.

What differentiates our teams? The differences evolved over time, as the need arose. Please let us give you an overview further down.

Global virtual HumanDHS Office, or HumanDHS Staff: This is our global staff, those among our members who, in a collaborative effort, wish to attend to daily tasks, such as daily incoming emails, organizing of meetings, etc. We need always more help! Your help is welcome!
Global Core Team: Here you find our members who wish to contribute actively to our work
Gobal Advisory Board: These are our senior honorary members, who wish to offer the weight of their names to support our work, even though they might not have the capacity to be very active
Supporters: These are our members who wish to indicate their support to our work without being able to become active
Sponsors: Here you see our members who have been kind enough to support our work with funding
Partners: This is an ever-growing list of of institutions and organizations with whom we wish to develop more cooperation

Links: This is an ever-growing list of institutions and organizations that - in various ways - share our vision. We hope that this list is interesting and enriching to our members and other interested parties.

Education Team: Here you meet our members who wish to develop our educational activities
Research Team: Here you meet our members who wish to develop our research activities
Intervention Teams: Here you see many ideas that are being developed, or wait for being developed, all by their own teams.

A very warm welcome to you!
The HumanDHS Team


This map shows the locations of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Conferences until 2013.
Please click on the map to see it larger.