Historical Analogies and Intractable Negotiation

In: International Negotiation
Valerie Rosoux UCLouvain (UCL) Place de l’Université 1, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve Belgium

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This article questions the role of historical analogies in reaching – or not – effective and durable agreements. It compares two emblematic cases, the Israeli-Palestinian case and the Franco-Algerian case, and focuses on the tension that exists between the weight of the past and the need to move forward. The purpose of the article is not to reduce the hardest cases to their historical dimension. It is rather to show that the ways in which the memories of past events are interpreted, misinterpreted, or even manipulated create the context that shapes peace processes. The analysis is structured on the three main functions attributed to historical analogies: representing the unfamiliar, assigning social roles, and framing action. The examination of these functions helps us to better understand how negotiators and mediators can try to live with the memories rather than without them or against them.

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