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Fierce Entanglements

Communication and Ethnopolitical Conflict


Donald G. Ellis

The third in a trilogy on communication and ethnopolitical conflict, this book focuses on multicultural groups significantly divided by politics and religion. These groups have become «fiercely entangled»; that is, they are inescapably politically, socially, and culturally interdependent. Using the Israeli Palestinian conflict as the primary example, Ellis offers a timely analysis of how communication can begin to untangle these groups. Group differences lead to cultural differences – some of the most difficult aspects of a conflict. This book examines the nature of group differences as well as solutions-based conflict resolution that is embedded in theories of communication and democracy.
Ellis argues that resources are unequally distributed and differences are the norm. Politics is used to manage these differences and although communication is the fundamental tool of conflict management, there are other components in resolving conflicts that complement communication approaches. Dialogue and deliberation are posed as workable responses to untangling these differences and managing intractability.
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← vi | vii → Preface


This book is the third in a trilogy devoted to communication and ethnopolitical conflict. I had spent my entire academic career studying conflict in groups beginning with a Master’s Thesis in 1974 and continuing for the next 40 years to explore the roots of these issues along with various branching detours into communication theory and discourse analysis. I had always been interested in communication in groups, with particular emphasis on conflict, but in 2003 I spent the summer as a Fellow at the Asch Center then at University of Pennsylvania. The Fellowship included intense discussions and seminars with political theorists, psychologists, and political scientists all of whom were experts and interested in some aspect of political conflict, especially those political conflicts where ethnicity and religion were implicated. The Asch Center experience crystallized my interests, and I turned my full attention to intractable political conflicts with particular interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since then, and even before 2003, I had spent time in Israel and was increasingly interested in Israel-Palestine as a prototypical example of ethnopolitical conflicts. An Israeli academic colleague and friend, Ifat Maoz, was instrumental in helping me understand the process of conducting research in Israel as well as exposing me to the nuances of the culture and the conflict. Ifat and I were conducting research since 1998, and we had accumulated publications concerning communication processes that characterize interactions between Israelis and Palestinians (cf. Ellis & Maoz, 2002; Maoz & Ellis, 2001).

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