Walking the tightrope – can storysharing play a part in reconciliation?

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Walking the tightrope – can storysharing play a part in reconciliation?

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Publication 1-year master student thesis
Title Walking the tightrope – can storysharing play a part in reconciliation?
Author(s) Johansson, Sara
Date 2005
English abstract
This thesis asks whether sharing personal experiences with people from the other side of a conflict contribute to reconciliation. The reconciliatory work of four multinational women´s organizations in Bosnia-Hercegovina are examined in the light of contact theory and thinking on narrative, looking specifically at the possibilities of talking and the obstacles of a post-conflict society. Taking Trudy Govier´s writing as a starting point reconciliation is defined as a renewal of trust through forgiveness that makes long-term co-operation possible. Contact theory offers alternative circumstances where the process of reconciliation can start. Thinking on narrative brings light on the act of talking and listening and how that can influence the circumstances and the actors. 15 semi-structured interviews were held with women in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Seven of them were organizers, eight of them participants. The questions were formulated and the transcribed interviews were analyzed with the help of five themes: talking, change, co-operation, trust, future and reconciliation. This thesis comes to the conclusion that reconciliation has to be seen as both an individual and a societal issue. It is a personal experience, but it cannot be separated from the society the person lives in. Talking can bring two people from different sides of a conflict together but the future and possibilities of their relationship is tightly bound to events in their community, the views of people around them and the general atmosphere of their surrounding environment. The concept of reconciliation is full of contradictions that reflect the complexities in a post-conflict society. The contradictions are both practical and emotional, lived and felt. In all its’ contradictions, reconciliation is about bridging gaps. After a war there is a gap between people who have lost faith in each other. There is also a gap between the past and the present, a gap left by all that was lost in the conflict. There is a gap between the individual and the society that betrayed her by ceasing to be a society and becoming chaos. All these gaps have to be traversed. A story told in earnest and listened to in the same spirit binds a tightrope over the gap for storyteller and listener. But there is a whole lot else besides that influencing the success of the tightrope walkers.
Publisher Malmö högskola/Konst, kultur, kommunikation, K3
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Reconciliation
Conflict theory
Group identity
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/4029 (link to this page)

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