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Abstract

The study of groups’ behaviors in conflicts has shown that societies favor the in-group, delegitimize the out-group, and provide explanations for members of society as to why the conflict erupted and how to cope with it. It has been claimed that societies share a psychological in-group repertoire, an ethos of conflict, and that they develop a culture of conflict. As part of societies’ mechanisms, culture and fictional products – films, books and plays – have an important role in shaping the way people perceive, think and act in conflicts. Yet fictional texts, by their mere characteristics, provide a discourse which is more ambiguous and more equivocal: They speak in different voices, have many layers, and present the fictional reality in complex and even self-contradicting ways. There is therefore a contradiction between the role cultural texts supposedly have in an ethos of conflict, and the complex discourse they present. Looking at novels and films produced in Israel in the 1980s as a case study, the article shows that cultural products do not necessarily go in line with what one could expect from texts produced in a society in conflict. It is shown that in this particular case the cultural products provide a picture that resembles the ethos of conflict that will take the forefront 20 years later but not of the time in which they were produced. Three hypotheses are suggested in order to explain this gap.

Author Bio(s)

Yuval Benziman is a lecturer on conflict research in the Tel-Aviv University and in the Israeli Interdisciplinary Center (IDC). His research interests include the relations between fictional texts and perceptions of conflict, the manifestation of the Israeli-Arab conflict in Israeli films and novels, and the competing narratives in the Israeli-Arab conflict. Two of his recent articles look at how the Israeli-Lebanon conflict is presented in Israeli films. Email: yuval.benziman@gmail.com

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