The CSJR is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create safe spaces for people affected by acts of violence and criminal offences, and who wish to engage in a restorative justice (RJ) process based on encounter, sharing and dialogue, to meet, listen to each other, acknowledge the harms done or received, and find ways of repairing those harms together (CSJR 2019). Our partnership aims to use participatory oral history performance strategies to create such space where, in addition to victims and offenders, target audiences such as students and members of the wider community will meet and participate.

The goal of Diasporic Listening: Performative Interventions in Transitional Justice in Colombia and Beyond is to develop, mobilize and exchange knowledge about the possibilities and difficulties of bringing refugees and, more broadly, exiles into becoming transitional justice actors whose voices matter in the public spheres of both their homes and their host societies. At home, their voices matter as truths of the violent conflict that has displaced them; in their host society, their voices need to be heard in the context of mental health practices and for immigration institutions and integration processes to be reviewed in the light of their narratives. By creating a knowledge exchange forum, by publishing a positioning paper, by producing a podcast and by facilitating a series of performative listening (outreach) activities, our aim is to build an intersectoral, international network of victims’ organizations, scholars, NGO’s, cultural mediators and mental health practitioners.

This project combines the expertise of Dr Sotelo Castro and Dr Coffey in order to develop an understanding of how an innovative acting technique called headphones verbatim may be used to enable performers to embody someone else’s real-life, emotionally charged narratives with relatively minimal risks. Apparently, and this will be used in this project as a working hypothesis, there is a ‘distancing’ effect in the mediation of the listening-delivery process that may seal the performer from being affected. However, no empirical research exists to date to validate such claims, and anecdotal reports from practitioners and teachers suggest that the technique is not always successful in protecting the performer. There is little understanding of what precise instructions to give to the performers so that they carry out the task effectively and with minimal risks to their mental, emotional health.

This project aims to understand the impact of space, that is, the designed and built environment, as the primary physical context of restorative and transitional justice efforts.