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Spirituality, well-being, memory and the future, in applied storytelling : a comparison of two “Sites of Conscience Museums”, namely the Museum of Free Derry, Northern Ireland and District Six Museum, South Africa.

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Applied storytelling is a form of autoethnographic, verbal, visual or written communication intended for social change that emphasises memory and the future in post-conflict museums such as District Six Museum, Cape Town, South Africa and the Museum of Free Derry, Derry / Londonderry, Northern Ireland. This study is trans-disciplinary, qualitative, comparative research. It analyses how the sharing of personal narratives told by storytellers who have experienced loss, such as District Six ex-residents and relatives of Bloody Sunday victims, impacts their spiritual well-being. The focus in this research is specifically on the verbal applied storytelling but the role of visual and written autoethnographies is also included linked thereto. It promotes an inclusive hybridity methodology, informed by theory, whereby global south and north dichotomies are bridged and participatory practises are merged with Ubuntu philosophy. The role of spirituality, as it relates to self, others, a higher being and / or cause and the environment, is effectively analysed by implementing of a framework for analysis which is non-linear, flexible and thematic. This proved effective in the analysing of the role of storytelling trance and spiritual connections between storytellers and visitors as being part of a positive feed-back loop for the promotion of their spiritual well-being. It further proved specifically effective in the analysis of the ‘spirit of the place’ that is in the identifying of layers of spiritual connections through oral living heritage to heritage of place, space and topography. Applied storytelling by communities of loss is found, in this study, to be a form of communal autoethnography or spiritual action, that acts as a resource for hope and spiritual well-being when individual storytellers have personal agency / autonomy within an independently conjoined inosculation relationship to a community post-conflict museum.


Doctor of Philosophy in Centre for Communication, Media and Society. University of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban, 2017.