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Performative Listening

Hearing Others in Qualitative Research

Chris McRae

Performative Listening: Hearing Others in Qualitative Research offers an alternative theory of listening – as a performative act, or as a relational stance and performance in which listeners ethically engage in an act of learning from others across difference. This theory emerges from an interdisciplinary approach to performance studies, communication, musicology, and critical pedagogy in order to present a nuanced theory of listening as performance that is always linked to questions of context, individual experiences, and cultural expectations. Working from examples of the music and autobiography of Miles Davis, this book offers a clear and practical guide for applying performative listening in the contexts of qualitative, narrative, and arts-based approaches to research and inquiry. By emphasizing the embodied, relational, and creative functions of the highly contextual and cultural performance of listening, Performative Listening presents a theory and method that can be used to rethink the ways scholars and students engage with others in a wide variety of qualitative research and educational contexts.
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Chapter 7. A Call to Listen




The stage is set. The scene is now. It is your time. You are playing the role of listener. You prepare yourself by taking a deep breath, and then you take your place in the midst of the ongoing action and interactions. You are surrounded by sounds, stories, music, and voices. You lean in and listen. You are moved, rattled, and vibrated. You sit back and listen. You are caught off guard, startled, and surprised. You tune in and listen. You relate, resonate, and reverberate.

You listen. You hear and account for the sounds that surround you. You cultivate your awareness. You keep listening. You feel your way into and through the space. You engage as a listener. You create motion and transformation. You perform as a listener. You learn from others and about yourself.

You are invited to listen. You listen as an act of imagination and invitation. As you listen, you imagine new relationships, new spaces, and new lessons. As you listen you invite the sounds of others. You extend and open yourself as a listener: learning from, performing with, and relating to others. You keep listening.

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