Call for abstracts

Textus issue 1/2025 – Language

The Breeding Grounds of Conflict:Discourses of War, Discrimination, Protest, and Disinformation


Guest co-editors:

Bronwen Hughes (Parthenope University of Naples)

Margaret Rasulo (University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli)

Ruth Wodak (Lancaster University/University of Vienna)

Copy Editor: Laura Ann McLean (University of Turin)

Sticks and stones will break my bones,

and words will always hurt me.

Although the word ‘conflict’ brings international warfare readily to mind, disagreements can occur at any level or setting. By adopting a broader definition of the term, other fissiparous contexts and circumstances are called into play. Stripped of its many connotative features, conflict entails the duality of opposing factions, the ‘taking of sides’, the perception of an enemy, and the apportioning of interest.

Our era is witnessing a surge of opinions, actions, and beliefs of a conflictual nature. The manifold contexts in which conflict arises range from overt hostile manifestations of dissent to covert hate-inducing tactics. The daily exposure to a myriad of viral inoculations of animosity which contaminate our personal and professional identity impacts upon our ever-diminishing resilience as human beings, leading to vulnerability and permeability.

In the presence of a persistent feeling of defencelessness when faced with conflict, alarming levels of negative emotional expenditure are likely to emerge, with an ensuing sense of fear, coupled with other adverse feelings of anxiety, anger and frustration. Linked to cultural and collective trauma, fear is indeed the emotional force that shapes human agency as well as attitudes. In conflict-steeped contexts, individuals are confronted with a lingering perception of threat brought about by social disruption and division. In political settings, fear is at its pinnacle when it strives to divide the world into “good” and “bad” citizens, thus legitimizing politics of exclusion, dramatization and emotionalization (Wodak, 2015). In the spirit of the survival of the fittest, in such dire circumstances, rather than stifling divergencies through resolutory actions, we tend to react by taking the emotional turn, prompting either the avoidance or the instigation of conflict (Bramsen et al. 2014; Wahl-Jorgensen, 2019). Thus, despite the much-needed call for a ceasefire across all breeding grounds of conflict, worldwide evidence points to the normalization (Wodak 2015) of hostile patterns and propaganda without counter remedies or calls for action.

Be it open or proxy warfare, online/offline hate speech, climate injustice or economic disparity, the sheer callousness of conflictual behaviour – whether ideational, ideological, or emotional – erodes the very fabric of society and leads to widespread polarization. Conflict is by its very nature complex, and the recent global pandemic with its attendant move to online platforms has added new layers of difficulty. Online environments are intrinsically conducive to the proliferation of conflictual discourses often linked to the viral spreading of disinformation. Indeed, information warfare abounds on social media sites, and is often blamed for intensifying societal polarization by creating echo chambers (E. Bakshy et al., 2015). For political, social, religious, or economic reasons, these filters tend to prevent people from being exposed to evidence-based information (Del Vicario et al. 2016), resulting in the blurring of social boundaries dangerous common ground which not only excludes the ‘other’, as an individual or perspective, but also breeds conflict. The phenomenon known as context collapse, inherent to the architecture of social media, and consisting in the blurring of social boundaries between the private and the public, or the personal and the professional, only serves to aggravate the problem (Davis and Jurgenson 2014). When every interaction is addressed to a multiple audience and the distinctiveness of context collapses, the platform takes over and controls the only gateway to/for information.

Language does participate in the worldview of conflicts, and discursive representations of antagonism may serve to exacerbate or ameliorate situations of unacceptable strife. One such dynamic is the Us and Them division (van Dijk, 1998) that reproduces positive self-presentation and negative other- presentation (Reisigl and Wodak, 2001). This view of the world not only mobilizes conflict to initiate or stifle necessary social action, such as passing vital legislation to solve climate change or immigration, but also legitimizes attacks on existing institutions and the rule of law.

Extensive exposure to the dynamics of conflict and contingent factors therefore provides significant insights into the role of language and discourse in understanding and addressing such issues. Whatever the context of usage, discourses of conflict, due to their insidious nature can, and often do, go undetected. Lack of awareness, in turn, leads to collateral damage stemming from asymmetries of power, opposing interests and reduced social capital.

Conflict, as emerges from the above discussion, is a phenomenon of such complexity and breadth, that it cannot be fully understood within the boundaries of a single discipline and needs to be addressed from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. Contributions to this issue of Textus will therefore extend the debate by raising the levels of critical awareness and providing understanding of the multiple ways in which hostile systems perpetuate themselves to the grave detriment of the basic needs of individuals and groups.

Possible areas of research include but are not limited to the following:

· Discourses of Nationalism

· Gender Identity Representation

· Political discourse

· Health discourse

· Immigration

· Physical and sexual aggression, from individual violence to mass aggression, including genocide

and terrorism.

· The dynamics and evolution of conflict and resolution.

· Peace research

· Religion and anger

· Gender and anger

· Ethnicity, marginalization and anger

· Isolation and competition

· (Im)politeness theory

· Geo-political fields of tension

· Hate speech and xenophobia, racism, disability, sexism, discrimination

· The representation of identity in traditional and new media

· Institutional discourse and identity representation

· Identities and conflict in translation

· Identity construction in postcolonial settings

· Language, gender identity and sexuality

· National/nationalist identity construction

· Language, identity and disability

· Language, identity and ethnicity

· Language, identity and ageism

· Language, identity and religion

· Linguistic identity construction: native/L1 vs. non-native/L2

· Identity in academic, professional and specialized domains.


Selected methods and approaches should be rooted in the fields of:

· Terminology, Lexicology and Lexicography

· Metaphor, Rhetoric and Argumentation

· (Critical) Discourse Analysis

· Corpus Linguistics

· Multimodal Discourse Analysis

· Audiovisual translation, interpreting and accessibility


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Bakshy, E., Messing, S. and Adamic, L. A. (2015) Exposure to ideologically diverse news and opinion on Facebook. Science, 348, 1130–1132.

Balirano, G. and Hughes, B. (eds) (2020) Homing in on Hate: Critical discourse studies of hate speech, discrimination and inequality in the digital age. Napoli: Paolo Loffredo.

Bramsen, I. and Poul, P. (2014) Theorizing Three Basic Emotional Dynamics of Conflicts: A Situational Research Agenda,” Peace Research: The Canadian Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies 46, no. 2 (2014): 51-86.

Chilton, P. (1987) Metaphor, Euphemism and the Militarization of Language. Current Research on Peace and Violence, 10(1), 7–19.

Davis, J. and Jurgenson, N. (2014) Context collapse: theorizing context collusions and collisions. Information, Communication & Society, 17:4, 476-485.

Del Vicario, M., Bessi, A., Zollo, F., Petroni, F., Scala, A., Caldarelli, G., Stanley, H.E., Quattrociocchi, W. (2016) The spreading of misinformation online. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113:3, 554–559.

Demata, M. (2024) The legitimation of conspiracy theories through manipulation. The case of climate lockdowns. In C. Ilie (ed.) Manufacturing Dissent: Manipulation and counter-manipulation in times of crisis. Amsterdam: John Benjamins,157-83.

Fairclough, N. (2003) Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London: Routledge.

Kelly, M., Footitt, H. and Salama-Carr, M. (eds) (2019) The Palgrave Handbook of Languages and Conflict. London- New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Knoblock, N. (ed.) (2022) The grammar of hate: Morphosyntactic features of hateful, aggressive, and dehumanizing discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Koller, V., Borza, N., Demata, M., et al. (2023) Voices of Supporters. Populist parties, social media and the 2019 European elections. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Maci, S., Demata, M., McGlashan, M. and Seargeant, P. (eds) (2023) The Routledge Handbook of Discourse and Disinformation. London-New York: Routledge.

Rasulo, M. (2023) Master Narratives of Hate Speech: A multimodal analysis. Napoli: Paolo Loffredo.

Reisigl, M. and Wodak. R. (2001) Discourse and Discrimination: Rhetorics of Racism and Antisemitism. London: Routledge.

Steuter, E. and Wills, D. (2008) At War with Metaphor: Media, Propaganda, and Racism in the War on Terror. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.

Thorne, S. (2006) The Language of War. London: Routledge.

van Dijk, T.A. (1998) Ideology: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: Sage.

Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2019) Emotions, Media and Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. Wodak, R. (2015) The Politics of Fear. London: Sage.


Submission of abstracts and timeline

Please send abstracts to:,


Deadline for abstracts submission (400 words plus references): 30 April 2024. Please put as subject line

“Textus Language Issue 1/2025 – abstract submission”

Notification to authors: 15 May 2024

Deadline for submission of first draft of article (maximum 7500 words including references): 31 August 2024

Request for revisions following peer review: 15 October 2024

Deadline for final version of article: 15 December 2024

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