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Title: Past presencing for the future? : the function of performed storytelling in Northern Irish post-conflict peacebuilding
Author: Weiglhofer , Magdalena
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 071X
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2014
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Since - and despite - the peace agreement in Northern Ireland in 1998, it seems that the political vision of identity pluralism for this post-conflict society is still limited to a 'two communities' model that leads to demands for 'equality' on a tit-for-tat level. This thesis investigates publicly portrayed narratives of life during the conflict and its aftermath in order to assess to what extent such stories can be a means of challenging a preservation of individual and collective memory that perpetuates an 'us and them' mentality. Ultimately, the thesis seeks to further understanding as to what storytelling can contribute to a peace process in a society coming out of conflict. My analyses are based on ethnographic research on two community drama projects that used the tool of real life storytelling transformed into public performance. Participant observation, interviewing and documentation of the projects over an extended period of time allowed me to explore the impact of such work on an interpersonal, inter-group and wider societal level within a still divided society. The thesis also takes into account the interdependency between private and public meaning and considers aspects of ownership, agency and discourses of emotion as well as issues of 'truth' and possible (ethical) challenges through this process of displaying one's personal experiences in a public space. The findings of this research suggest that the concept of 'presencing the past' and bearing witness to those memories carry the potential to break open internalised patterns of habitus (Bourdieu 1977; Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992) that are experienced as natural and, as such, might hamper change. While flagging up the dangers of storytelling practice in a post-conflict setting, I argue that, ultimately, performed memory telling does respond to John Paul Lederach's call (2005) for a moral imagination which empowers us to envisage and create new stories that offer alternative points for identification by acknowledging the past but recognising that every historically developed social form is in fluid movement in which multiple realities are possible.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available