Relational practice of listening as dialogue (Keynote)

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  • Kyoko Murakami
Listening is essential to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. Misunderstanding leads to destructive conflict. A recent opportunity to look at cultures of listening (Motzkau, 2017) allowed me critically to revisit my work on conflict resolution and reconciliation discourses. In the more orthodox social psychological approach to studying memory as a pure recall, the analyst tends to assume the role of listening, especially the researcher’s role in the conversation, as given, as if it was a neutral recipient of information given and therefore, deemed less important. Much discourse research on collective remembering and commemoration has focused on how accounts of events and people were remembered by interlocutors during talk in interaction. Such work examines the discursive production of accounts, or the practices of accountability used in relation to what is remembered. Arguably memory of the problematic past is constructed in social interactions and contentious stakes are managed. Thus, ‘good’ listening practice of the researcher has a bearing on the quality of the data. The analyst gets into the business of addressing how interlocutors engage in sensitive conversations, when contentious claims about past events are put forward, negotiated, contested and reformulated. Only until recently, I focused on this very discursive production. I am now thinking differently about listening, especially listening from the point of view of the researcher and the teacher, which are my professional roles. How do I talk and listen as a teacher or a researcher in conversations about a problem, albeit with a student in distress or anxiety, or a WWII veteran with bitter past relations with the Japanese? In these instances, I would like to consider listening as dialogue. In doing so, I would like to argue that listening is a relational practice for achieving empathy between the interlocutors; it is not merely cognitive adaptation or alignment, more than agreeing (or disagreeing) with the account. In this talk, I wish to share my work-in-progress approach to listening as dialogue. After outlining concepts of dialogue drawing from the work of Martin Buber (Buber, 1947, 1970), David Bohm (Bohm, 1996; Brinn, 2016) and/or Mikhail Bakhtin (Skidmore, 2000). I would like to explore two issues: (1) how the act of listening is configured as emergent empathy, (2) how the act of listening is linked to the phenomenological issues of attunement, taking care, and the interlocutors’ being-in-the world (Heidegger, 2010 (1953))and illustrate them in a few examples taken from my work of reconciliation talk (Heidegger, 2010 (1953); Murakami, 2012) or the ritual practice of tea ceremony (Murakami, 2018). This presentation is aimed at extending and re-specifying ‘cultures of listening’. I wish to address implications for this perspective on dialogic listening to the current crisis in the development of critical social and cultural psychology in Denmark and its vicinity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date14 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2019
EventThe 4th Dialogue between Civilizations at Tokai University European Center. - European Center, Tokai University, Vedbæk, Denmark
Duration: 14 Mar 201915 Mar 2019


ConferenceThe 4th Dialogue between Civilizations at Tokai University European Center.
LocationEuropean Center, Tokai University

ID: 213558555