From Prepeace to Postconflict: The Ethics of (Non)Listening and Cocreation in a Divided Society

Sara Ramshaw, Paul Stapleton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland (NI) has been well-marketed internationally as an unqualified success in transitional justice. And yet, driven by a refusal to listen – to those on the “other side” of the sectarian divide and those who reject this duality – NI is better described as pre-peace as opposed to post-conflict. This chapter explores what it means to listen (or not listen) in a divided society. Musical improvisation, as that which promotes active listening skills, demands an openness to narratives outside those commonly portrayed as dominant. As such, “(non-)listening” becomes an ethical practice that endeavours to both listen and not listen to the voices and sounds of the “other.” Moving from the ethics of improvisation to that of cocreation, this chapter proposes a re-imagining of an alternative future for NI, a “playing for keeps” in which being-with-others challenges sustained unproductive non-listening in a divided society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlaying for Keeps: Improvisation in the Aftermath
EditorsDaniel Fischlin, Eric Porter
PublisherDuke University Press
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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