This article explores an aspect of identity that can be particularly challenging for conflict resolution—negative identity. By negative identity, I mean an identity in which a party implicitly or explicitly defines itself in a negative way, specifically, by way of contrast to some other party. This phenomenon occurs in conflicts ranging from small, interpersonal ones to large-scale conflicts between national, ethnic, and religious groups. Negative identities may make conflicts more likely to arise and also make them more difficult to resolve when they do. Fortunately, there are steps that both parties and neutrals can take to foster conflict resolution in the context of negative identity. These include processes that help parties listen to one another with open minds, engage in self-examination of their own identities, and embrace the range of identities that they hold.
Jonathan R. Cohen, Negative Identity and Conflict, 35 Ohio St. J. on Disp. Resol. 737 (2020)