Thursday, 21 November 2013

Transitional Justice

A site for students called Transitional Justice has a Northern Ireland case study which looks at the music of Morrison as part of the healing process for Northern Ireland.  It also focuses on Nazi Germany, Rwanda and South Africa.   Here’s some of that interesting site:    

 Connecting through the Music of Van Morrison

In the aftermath of mass violence and instability, what role can music play in promoting unity and reconciliation in a society imagining peace?
Music has the potential to affect people in ways unlike any other form of communication. And although it can be used to divide, music can also draw together people who are struggling for connection and common ground. In communities in Northern Ireland, it sometimes seems that there are three of everything: schools, sports teams, restaurants, community centres, etc. There is one for Protestants, one for Catholics, and one for both.

Are there things in Northern Irish society that are shared, that bring people together, and rise above this "rule of three"? When asked this question, a group of teachers confided that there were, in fact, a few. One of them is a love for the music of singer/songwriter Van Morrison. His songs represent neither Catholics nor Protestants, he employs both in his band, and his concerts draw everyone. With real joy, these teachers reflected on the importance of this shared musical connection.
Once, following a visit by President Clinton-the first U.S. President to visit Northern Ireland-Morrison played for a peaceful crowd of 80,000 people; a crowd with representation from many groups within the country. This was a moment that these teachers remembered and cherished. Nearly a decade later, they recall the event as something that allowed them to imagine peace, the possibility of living together, and being a part of a crowd that together sang Morrison's song, Days Like This.

Connections for the Classroom...
The group of teachers were all deeply affected by the concert. What role does such shared moments play in peace building? Why are symbols and music like some of the songs of Van Morrison so important to peace building efforts? Are there songs, people, or events you can think of that you-or your country-might share with a group that is considered an enemy or a former enemy?

Pick a line or two from the lyrics of Days Like This that most affect or interest you. Share the lines in full or small group discussion and explain why you chose them.

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