This article is the second of two that describe a psychodynamically informed understanding of the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland and an approach to cultural transformation called “cultural work” aimed at building peace among the state’s traumatized communities. The conflict between Protestant and Catholic communities has extended well into the cultural domain and is often weaponized to attack the Other. Conversations about culture quickly become stuck in a quagmire of identity politics. This article describes a psychodynamic trauma–informed approach to cultural conversations involving an in-depth analysis of culture that avoids becoming stuck. It outlines a framework and set of preconditions that enable such deep conversations and reports on a pilot project involving community leaders from both sides of the conflict as well as those who are non-aligned. This project demonstrated how these seemingly innocuous conversations about culture got to the heart of many of the political issues related to the conflict without becoming stuck. Furthermore, they reached the deeper unspeakable and unresolved problems that affect peacebuilding; most notably, trauma, suicide and violence.



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