Media and Discourse in Political Conflict (MA)

Communication plays a critical role for mobilizing mass support in violent conflict. Shaping and synchronizing the conflict perceptions of large and diverse groups, conflict discourse has been one of the prevalent venues of research, which has tried to unravel possible incendiary dynamics and protracted structures. In this class, we engage the rich scholarship on the discursive construction of conflict, focusing on the role of cultural beliefs, group identities, and their recurrent recreation in seemingly natural, everyday communications: How are in- and outgroups portrayed in the conflict? What are common ways for explaining violent events, and how do these relate to wider, commonly shared identities and belief systems? Focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we use discourse analytic strategies to identify relevant ideas in current conflict discourse, and assess their prevalence in different contexts, including other contemporary conflicts, in a comparative fashion. The class aims to advance participants’ understandings of the cultural and discursive underpinnings of conflict and violence.

Course Topics:

  • What you say is what you get? The social life of language
  • This means war: The discourse of violence and escalation
  • Je suis Charlie: The discourse of unity
  • A new chapter: The discourse of rapprochement
  • Live from the current crisis: Journalistic conflict discourse
  • I’m all for peace, but…: The everyday discourse of conflict
  • Researching discourse: Introduction to Discourse Analysis
  • The sane and the crazy: Discourse polarization
  • Hang ‘em: The discourse of radicalization
  • Presentation of projects