The poetics of peace: from aesthetic knowledge to reconciliation
Velthuizen, Andreas G.
Ferguson, Kate D.
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This article is inspired by the need for research methods that would discover the interrelationships of reconciliation and culture, specifically analysing the behaviour of field researchers originating from different lifestyles or culture, observing and participating in the artful expressions of research subjects. The purpose of this article was to present an overview of research into poetics as a source of information that contributes to existing bodies of knowledge and the finding of practical solutions related to peace-building in African communities. The authors argued that knowledge could be discovered from various forms of poetics through sensuous participation and intellectual interpretation and could be applied to the process of reconciliation. In support of this argument, the research was conducted with the San, the First People of southern Africa, in the context of a broader research project that aims at finding and publishing theory for dispute resolution in Africa. The discussion contains a conceptual framework of philosophy and theories that elucidates the concepts of poetics, the aesthetic domain and its relevance to peace and reconciliation in Africa. The transdisciplinary research methodology borrows from ethnographic methodologies including sensuous scholarship and participant observation of ritualistic experiences. The authors conclude that the creative, ritualistic and artistic lifeworlds of communities, in or recovering from conflict situations, are deeply relevant to any real motion towards reconciliation and healing.