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Warrior Talk

A study of war, peace and politics

Sally Watson

«Warrior talk is defined as language, terms and metaphors associated with war and violence used in political discourses or appropriated into everyday settings to influence people and situations.»

Warrior Talk is part of the human experience in conflict situations at global, national and organizational levels and while the scale of conflict may vary, the language of war is a potent dynamic and key inhibitor of sustainable peace. A case study of the Northern Ireland peace process has been used as a background for research into Sinn Féin political discourses in the period 1969-2019. The findings indicate that republican warrior talk has evolved over five decades but continues to play a role in Sinn Féin politics. The implications of this research are applicable to other forms of conflict and particularly whether there has been protracted or intermittent episodes of violence.

This book will appeal to a varied audience: students, researchers and readers interested in peace building whether international or local. The style of the book will demystify the field of political discourse analysis and provide tools and resources to enrich the reader’s experience.

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Chapter 1 An introduction to warrior talk

Extract

We are always writing the history of war, even when we are writing the history of peace.1

The focus of this book is the enduring nature of warrior talk, its role in political discourses and impact on human relationships. Warrior talk is a fundamental part of our human existence and exists in many forms of communication between individuals, groups and nations. On a global level, it is perplexing that so few modern conflicts have been resolved and sadly many continue to display a disturbing level of direct physical violence.2 There is very rarely a neat symmetrical outcome that is sustainable despite the rhetoric of peace talks and the high-profile events where peace agreements are signed. This study of warrior talk will help to illuminate why some conflicts remain in perpetual cycles of violence and retaliation. The roots and causes of conflict are communicated through stories, metaphors and symbolic language: this process serves to trap conflicting parties in past grievances. A peace process represents an imagined future and is therefore unknown whereas the past is well known, albeit often contested.

The language of war may have a role to play in obstructing the progress of peace negotiations, but the language of peace is equally problematic because it brings with it an expectation that there will need to be a compromise in positions and interests. In practice, a peace process can be challenging to initiate and sustain, and it frequently moves through phases of ‘process fatigue’.3 A major...

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