Nations as persons: Collective identities in conflict

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The paper analyses the construal of collective identities in the Middle East conflict, with special regard to the nation-as-person metaphor. This metaphor has been highlighted by proponents of Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Critical Metaphor Analysis as being instrumental in conceptualizing collective political entities as (pseudo-)personal identities. On the other hand, it has been critically argued that the nation-as-person metaphor should not be over-generalized and it has even been condemned as a fallacious theoretical construct. In view of the metaphor’s controversial status, the paper studies a corpus of ten speeches delivered by the Israeli and Palestinian political leaders B. Netanyahu and M. Abbas to the UN General assemblies in the period 2011–2015. Instances of emphatic use and enactment of the nation-as-person metaphor by the speakers are analysed in detail for their contextual implications and their function in collective identity-construction. The main finding is that whilst the nation-as-person metaphor is not ubiquitous in a statistical sense, it informs the fundamental pragmatic stance of the speakers as personifications of their nations’ collective identities vis-à-vis other nations. In conclusion, it is argued that such collective identity construction both expresses and shapes the progress of conflict communication.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiscourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameDiscourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture
ISSN (Print)1569-9463


  • Body politic
  • Conflict communication
  • Face
  • Identity
  • Israel
  • Metaphor
  • Palestine
  • Scenario
  • United Nations

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