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Home is Where Her Heart Is: Evelin Lindner has fashioned a life in the global village in order to promote human dignity


“Beijo,” murmurs a Brazilian woman as she leans in to embrace the statuesque woman with long blonde hair braided tightly down her back and a welcoming smile.  Their right cheeks come in contact as they each pretend to kiss the air.

“I’m always at home – I simply live in the global village,” Evelin Lindner, a Teachers College Visiting Scholar and director of the Dignity and Humiliation Studies Workshop held annually at the College, tells an observer.

Lindner, 61, is speaking both literally and metaphorically. Born into a displaced family from Silesia and raised in West Germany, she became an “intercultural voyager” at 20, calling no place and every place home. (A Lindner quote: “A home has to be built and nurtured every day.”) She subsequently lived in Egypt, China, Thailand, Rwanda and New Zealand (among other countries) and has become proficient in so many languages that she has come to view the term “language” itself is a misnomer that creates artificial barriers in communication.


Linder, who completed a doctorate in medicine at the University of Hamburg, Germany in 1994 and a doctorate of Psychology at the University of Oslo, Norway in 2001, has devoted her life to spreading the importance of human dignity around the world. Her work initially focused on the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda but has since expanded to studies of humiliation and human dignity that draw from anthropology, history, social philosophy, social psychology, sociology, and political science. She is the author of four books Making Enemies: Humiliation and International ConflictEmotion and Conflict; Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security; and A Dignity Economy: Creating an Economy that Serves Human Dignity and Preserves Our Planet. A fifth, to be titled Terrorism and Humiliation, is in the works. She founded and has long headed a global transdisciplinary network of academics and practitioners called Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS), and in 2010 launched the World Dignity University, a virtual organization, with her longtime collaborator, Linda Hartling.

“Our initiative is one tree. We offer it to others to build branches on the tree, but also as a way to connect with other trees,” says Lindner, who received the “Prisoner’s Testament” Peace Award in 2009. 

At the recent workshop at TC – held under the auspices of the College’s Morton Deutsch Center for Cooperation & Conflict Resolution and Columbia University’s Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict & Complexity, Lindner led a group that included psychologists, peace activists and a New York City police detective and hostage negotiator, James Shanahan, who spoke about “Verbal Judo,” a martial arts-based form of conflict resolution.

 “There are three types of police—hunters, healers, and hiders,” Shanahan said. “The hiders only care about production. We need to quantify policing other than by numbers.” – Rebecca Donaldson


Published Thursday, Dec 24, 2015

Evelin Lindner
TC Visiting Scholar Evelin Lindner
Evelin Lindner & Group
Evelin Lindner (left) with James Shanahan (center), New York City Police Department Detective and Hostage Negotiator, and Chipamong Chowdhury, a member of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Global Core Team.