Phantasy of Sameness of an Other: Impact of Imagination on Collective Memory in Conflict

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Dmitry Chernobrov, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews, UK


    The paper will suggest strong links between conflict (de)escalation and communication by exploring how groups make sense of the unknown (the new reality of intergroup conflict and its changing dynamics, or appearance of new groups) through known within intragroup communication. Interpretation of an Other as friendly or hostile results not as much from knowledge of the other, but rather from imagining and constructing collective feelings of similarity or difference, based on memory and self- identity processes. Mechanisms of signaling group inclusion/ exclusion often involve emotionally loaded language and symbols in in-group communication. However, this paper will be approaching the traditional process of othering and the construction of difference from the opposite perspective. I will be looking at the phantasy of sameness and the resulting illusion of recognition of similarity to self which relies on imagining the unknown other as familiar through the construction of parallels or shared collective memory. Similarly to othering based on difference, phantasy of sameness frames self-other conflict or attitudes to third party events and provides an opportunity for reconciliation with the other. The paper will draw on the example of Western reactions to the protests and identities of the Arab Spring to illustrate these tendencies. The argument will be situated in the broader dynamics of self-definition against the unknown, creation of identities, and the illusions and traumas of a meaningful discovery of an ‘other’ in conflict.