Friendship A Global Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference
Few relationships are as significant as our friendships. The Buddha was once asked by his cousin, Ananda, “Is friendship part of the path?” The Buddha’s response, “No Ananda, friendship is the whole path,” suggesting the momentous power and meaning attributed to friendships. Certainly, close friendships can be as just as important to us as familial bonds. Conversely, the absence of friends can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. Although the general psychological and biological benefits of friendship have been well documented, the actual experience of friendship is a deeply personal one. Not only do we each have our own views on what friendship means, we each have our own approach to choosing our friends.
Because of this element of subjectivity, friendship is a complex concept that deserves more extensive exploration of personal experiences and the ways in which it shapes, and is shaped by, social norms. The interplay between the way friendship is understood in a particular society and the way it is experienced by individuals raises a variety of questions: how do friendships form; what is the basis for the ‘attraction’ that underpins them; what purposes do they serve; why has friendship come to be regarded as a universal ‘good’; how do meanings of friendship change over time; what does it mean to be a “good friend”; what tangible things can be done to promote friendship as a social value; how might the conduct among friends be harnessed for the communal good more broadly; and more.
This inaugural inclusive conference aims to explore these and other facets of friendship through an inter-disciplinary dialogue that transcends the boundaries of the intellectual, the emotional and the personal with a view to forming a selective and innovative publication to engender further research and collaboration.
Proposals are invited for: presentations, papers, panels, workshops, readings, performances, screenings and installations on any aspect of friendship, including the following themes:
- Philosophical justifications and critiques of friendship
- Friendship in sacred texts and spiritual traditions
- Historical perspectives on friendship
- Physiological and neurological perspectives on friendship
- Impact of poor mental or physical health on friendship, and relevant coping strategies
- Counselling and self-help approaches to friendship issues
- Intimacy and friendship
- Dynamics of specific types of friendships: humans and animals, “bromance”, “best friends”, fraternal bonds, etc.
- Factors that cause friendships to form, breakdown, change, rekindle
- Impact of gender, sexuality, sex, class, religion, nationality, culture, and race on friendship
- Friendship and the process of growing up, maturing and ageing
- Non-human friendships: Friendships between animals, institutions, nations, etc.
- Rivalries between friends; ‘frenemies’; friendship and ideological differences
- Teaching friendship in the school curriculum
- Technology and Friendship: impact of inventions and technology on how friendships form and develop, friendship and artificial intelligence/robots, social media
- Famous friendships and how they inform understandings of friendship
- Dark sides of friendship: cliques, nepotism, exploitation, conspiracies, etc.
- Legal recognition of friendship
- Models of friendship in film, television, songs, theatre, video-games, literature, etc.
- The role of churches, NGOs, social policy and charities in promoting the values of friendship in the public sphere