The hyena story – what I find as a researcher











The previous post told how a peace-maker created a story that became known as “The hyenas are eating guns”. In this post, I list some of the things that I find in the story and in the account of how it happened, and that help understand processes around violence and conflict.

I notice how the hyena story is produced from embodied and emotional experiences in an actual physical space and place; how the story uses personification and metonymy to make it memorable and powerful; how the story appeals to shared cultural meanings that make it strange but familiar enough to understand its message.

I notice the dynamics of dialogue and interaction —  on the first night in the bush, the real noise turns into a story, and that becomes shortened and summarised as the phrase which the listeners take away with them and use. After that night, the phrase, and the story it stands for, is spoken and heard; it spreads. The phrase/story is turned into an image which is spread on a poster. The phrase/story is taken up and used in new ways; it becomes a resource for the community.  And now it is on my blog. It keeps  spreading.

I notice the skills in this conflict transformation work as Evans creates the dystopic imagined scenario and presents it to the young men whose role is to be brave and fearless in a way that leads them to imagine themselves in the scenario and feel the negative affect. I notice how he works with affordances. He spots and exploits opportunities that offer themselves — of the physical experience in the bush that night; of language, metaphor and metonymy to create powerful images; of shared cultural meanings; of posters and visual images.

I notice the direction of empathy: the young men are not encouraged to find empathy with their potential victims but with their imagined future selves, dying a bad death and being eaten by a disgusting animal.




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