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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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The three books I have written in the last 10 years that pertain to ethnopolitical conflicts and communication owe debts to many but to the Asch Center, previously at the University of Pennsylvania but now at Bryn Mawr, in particular. The Asch Center is a resource for networks of scholars committed to multidisciplinary approaches to analyzing and understanding the causes and consequences of ethnic conflict. Clark McCauley of the Asch Center is always helpful and an expansive source of references, research ideas, suggestions, and insights.

There’s never a shortage of people who have been helpful and influential. A number of the ideas for this book and others have been floating around but I was only able to put them into some coherent statement recently. The study of communication and ethnopolitical conflict is both interesting and maddeningly difficult. The constructs run the gamut from the micro-subjective to macro cultural and political processes. The ideas are new and fresh but anchored in traditions and even some unsophisticated tribal thinking. I have benefited tremendously from conversations with various colleagues about ethnopolitical politics, intercultural communication, intergroup contact, and conflict analysis. In addition to the Asch Center I’ve maintained pleasant engagement with Chuck Berger, Yael Warshel, Len Hawes, Linda Putnam, Richard Buttny, Dan Bar On, Richard Mole, and others too numerous to name. I thank my colleagues in the School of Communication at the University of Hartford for their gift of friendship and collegiality. I appreciate the university’s sabbatical...

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