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Sophie Haspeslagh: (De)vilification of the FARC and the linguistic cease-fi...

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King's College London, Waterloo campus

Franklin Wilkins Bldg, Rm 1.10

Stamford St.

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Abstract

Villains need to be de-villainised for talking to begin; this is a cornerstone of negotiation literature. But what happens when villains are proscribed, or listed as a terrorist organisation? What is different about the vilification process and how does it influence the prospect for de-vilification and the inception of peace negotiations? To tackle these questions, the paper analyses and compares the processes of vilification and de-vilification before and after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC for its Spanish acronym) was proscribed as a ‘terrorist’ organisation. Twenty years of statements by successive Colombian governments and the FARC were scanned, of which 335 were chosen based on relevance. This paper maps representations made by the two sides through an in-depth qualitative discourse analysis of the delimited texts. The paper revisits the literature on (de)vilification, adding to it by explaining some of its central components through a six-step process and by arguing that proscription leads to a form of extreme vilification. This extreme vilification appears to make de-vilification much more challenging. This is especially true of the government, which cannot simply switch directly to de-vilification. First it has to normalise its vilification – a concept we describe here as a “linguistic cease-fire”.

Biography

Sophie Haspeslagh is a doctoral candidate at the International Relations Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science where she is researching the engagement of armed groups and the effects of proscription on peace processes. Until 2012 she was Head of Policy at Conciliation Resources. She previously managed the advocacy platform, ABColombia. She has also worked for the United Nations Development Programme in Algeria, the World Food Programme in Rome, and International Crisis Group in Colombia and Brussels. Sophie holds a Masters in International Relations from SAIS, Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelors in Politics from the University of Bristol.

Chair: Christine Cheng, War Studies

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King's College London, Waterloo campus

Franklin Wilkins Bldg, Rm 1.10

Stamford St.

London

United Kingdom

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