Risks and Responsibilities: Creating Dialogical Spaces in Northern Ireland

Authored by: Elizabeth Porter

Categories: Peace Support Operations
Sub-Categories: De-escalation and Preventive Diplomacy
Country: Northern Ireland
Region: Europe and Eurasia
Year: 2000
Citation: Porter, Elizabeth. “Risks & Responsibility: Creating Dialogical Spaces in Northern Ireland.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 2, no. 2 (Summer 2000): 163–184.

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Executive Summary

The idea that open dialogue is the key to transformative politics sounds straightforward. However, in a polity such as Northern Ireland where deep discord has intricate roots, an openness to difference is complex. I argue that dialogical spaces are created when people are prepared to engage in a risk-taking that conjoins self-disclosure with the vulnerability of being truly open to others; and are willing to bear the responsibility of mutually speaking with and listening to the plural other. First, I explain the relationship between identity, difference and political participation of women in Northern Ireland, examining alliance politics and solidarity. I offer suggestions for how difference, multiplicity and justice can be accommodated. Second, I extend beyond the specific context of Northern Ireland to evaluate the ability of feminist theories of deliberative democracy to facilitate dialogue across difference. I examine the importance of normative notions of deliberation, communication, narrative and competing needs. Third, I extrapolate from these theories the idea that the dynamic between listening and speaking creates a space to include diversity and commonality.