Luis Carlos Sotelo recently received the Insight Grant for the, Oral History Performance, Listening Acts and Transformative Justice Project, which will provide $170 000 of funding over 4 years. Congratulations!

Insight Grant Project Summary for the Acts of Listening Lab

Oral History Performance, Listening Acts and Transformative Justice explores what participatory oral history performance and listening research may contribute to how listening acts are performed, defined, and assessed in transformative justice scenarios. The project is guided by this overarching question: can participatory oral history performance be used as the laboratory where listening may be “observed” and indicators of “effective” and “ineffective” listening in a transformative justice context may be developed? Our aim is not to reach to a single, unifying definition of listening against which to measure the effectiveness of a listening act. Rather, in keeping with current listening research, our aim is to explore the many complexities of the listening process in a transformative justice context as evidenced by different people and from their different positionalities. Thus, our research is as much about the different positionalities from which a listening act in a transformative justice context may be performed as it is about what those who give testimony expect from being heard.

We intend to tackle our research question in four phases spanning over four years:

In Phase 1, we develop the theoretical framework for the conceptualization of effective/ineffective listening indicators in a transformative justice context and produce a database of eligible cases.

In Phase 2, we develop two performance-workshops based on real-life testimonies by survivors of violence to stage an imaginary, participatory transformative justice process.

In Phase 3, we will use the performance-workshops as a laboratory to test the indicators develop in # 1) by recruiting a range of listener-participants.

In Phase 4, we discuss the findings in peer-reviewed journal articles and at national and international conferences.

The project will result in an open access database of examples of effective and ineffective transformative justice processes from across Canada and Colombia. The examples will include efforts made by both state-sanctioned mechanisms (e.g. truth commissions, etc.) and grassroots civilians, including performance creators working at the intersection of oral history, transformative justice, and participatory performance. Over four years, we will develop two performance workshops informed by original and archival oral history interviews and materials. One will present narratives by Colombian survivors of hostage-taking and kidnapping in exile in Canada with whom the PI has already a working relationship; the second performance- workshop will engage listener-participants with narratives by Indigenous Peoples, sharing the impact of colonialism as experienced by them directly in their everyday life. Collaborators Dr. Bimadoshka Pucan, of Saugeen First Nation, and Jessica Carmichael, of mixed Abénaki/Euro heritage will steer that process.

The PI is Luis C. Sotelo, Concordia’s Canada Research Chair in Oral History Performance. The research creation process will take place at his Acts of Listening Lab — a black box studio equipped with state-of the art sound technology. Co-applicant Dr. Cynthia Hammond contributes her expertise on questions about how to create ephemeral spaces for the sharing of memories in the urban environment. And co-applicant Dr Sheila Gruner, Professor in Community, Economic and Social Development contributes many years of experience working with women, Indigenous and Afro descendant communities in both Canada and Colombia. Her expertise will ensure we include a decolonized dimension in the development of our indicators of effective/ineffective listening. Our work will be supported by 9 collaborators from a range of disciplines who work in the field. Both Canada and Colombia will benefit directly from this project.