Catalysing Transformation Through Stories: Building Peace in Recognition, Struggle and Dialogue

Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)


Inasmuch as stories have transformative potential through fostering a sense of agency, voice and mutual recognition, they also have destructive power by fuelling divides and restating otherness. What then gives a story, and by extension, the processes of storytelling and story listening the potential for healing, transformation, and (re)conciliation? We explore this question in light of the story circle and story scripting process in a digital storytelling workshop, which we implemented with a group of community leaders from a peri-urban township entrenched in decades of structural violence and oppression. We identify and analyse two aspects of the group storying process, which were facilitated to achieve a constructive story, one that is geared towards the instillation of community hope. We emphasise that these processes are by no means presented as a “model for best practices” to be formulaically applied across contexts. Rather, we demonstrate how these unfolded as insights from the messiness, ambivalence and complexities within the processes of group storytelling. We highlight the ethical tensions between validating struggle and pain (reinforcing a narrative of community hopelessness) and recreating agentic possibilities for hope and change that, in turn, raises critical questions about our roles as facilitators (and co-creators) of a group story that comes to represent the story of the group of community leaders.


Constructive storytelling Peacebuilding Transformation Group process South Africa 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Social and Health SciencesUniversity of South AfricaJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.South African Medical Research Council-University of South Africa ViolenceInjury and Peace Research UnitCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Institute for Dispute Resolution in AfricaUniversity of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa
  4. 4.Sociology DepartmentUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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