Sophie Haspeslagh
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The ‘linguistic ceasefire’
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Chapter 4 explores the processes of vilification and de-vilification by mapping and analysing the representations each conflict party – the Colombian government and the FARC – made of the other over a 20-year period. The chapter examines the language used, the associations made and how that evolved over time during two pre-negotiation phases leading up to the Caguán and Havana negotiations. The chapter argues that before proscription, each conflict party was able to react to opportunities fluidly and shift language accordingly. Following proscription, de-vilification gets stickier as altering characterisations becomes harder and takes more time. This is especially true of the government, which, having vilified its opponent in an extreme way, cannot simply switch directly to de-vilification. First it has to normalise its vilification – a concept described as a ‘linguistic ceasefire’.

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