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Conceptualizing the Friendly Voice: How to Achieve Peace Through Amicable Communication?

Sun, May 27, 8:00 to 9:15, Hilton Prague, Floor: LL, Congress Hall I

Session Submission Type: Panel


Achieving peace through communication is the ultimate goal and central challenge of our time. When a nuclear conflict between the United States and North Korea looms, the European Union is in crisis, and the Middle East is ridden with conflict, the study of the “friendly, “peaceful” voice in international relations has never been more relevant. Communicating friendliness in everyday interactions has been the focus of many scholars who have tried to find a universal logic (Goffman, 1955; Brown & Levinson, 1987) or cultural-specific logics (Haas & Deseran, 1981; Katriel, 1986) for managing relationships. Still, in political communication, peace studies, and international relations efforts to study friendly communication have been minimal. Reasons vary. One is that political expressions of deference and solidarity are often treated as part of less meaningful "gesture politics" or "cheap talk" (Lakoff, 1990). A second reason is related to international relations' disciplinary considerations, namely the reluctance of constructivist scholars to address questions of language and communication “in order to engage the 'positivist” mainstream in dialogue" (Fierke, 2002, p. 331).
Nevertheless, language and communication are part of the actual making of interstate relations (Hall, 2015; Campbell & Jamieson, 1990; Chilton, 1990). Diplomacy is frequently defined in terms of communication and foreign affairs actors themselves need to acquire communicative competencies in the diplomatic language in order to engage in signaling and interpreting messages and intentions (Cohen, 1987; Jönsson & Hall, 2003).
The communicative problem guiding this panel is how to foster friendly and peaceable relations between states through amicable communication. Confronting this problem while acknowledging the hazards of sweet talk will advance our understanding of what are the building blocks and logics of friendly, peaceful communication and how they can thwart escalatory processes or initiate, maintain, and restore channels of communication based on consensus building and respect for sovereignty.
The panel is groundbreaking in the history of ICA, as the topic of peaceful communication has not yet been a focus of any annual conference. The four papers suggest a multidisciplinary perspective on the concept of the friendly voice by hosting scholars of communication, language and international studies. In addition to multi-disciplinarity, the panel also offers geographic diversity, featuring Israel, the United States, and the UK. Each of the papers deals with a different aspect of the friendly voice, including its logics, contents, representation and functions in global affairs.

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