Quasi-Coxeter categories and a relative Etingof-Kazhdan quantization functor
Let g be a symmetrizable Kac-Moody algebra and U_h(g) its quantized enveloping algebra. The quantum Weyl group operators of U_h(g) and the universal R-matrices of its Levi subalgebras endow U_h(g) with a natural quasi-Coxeter quasitriangular quasibialgebra structure which underlies the action of the braid group of g and Artin's braid groups on the tensor product of integrable, category O modules. We show that this structure can be transferred to the universal enveloping algebra Ug[[h]]. The proof relies on a modification of the Etingof-Kazhdan quantization functor, and yields an isomorphism between (appropriate completions of) U_h(g) and Ug[[h]] preserving a given chain of Levi subalgebras. We carry it out in the more general context of chains of Manin triples, and obtain in particular a relative version of the Etingof-Kazhdan functor with input a split pair of Lie bialgebras. Along the way, we develop the notion of quasi-Coxeter categories, which are to generalized braid groups what braided tensor categories are to Artin's braid groups. This leads to their succint description as a 2-functor from a 2-category whose morphisms are De Concini-Procesi associahedra. These results will be used in the sequel to this paper to give a monodromic description of the quantum Weyl group operators of an affine Kac-Moody algebra, extending the one obtained by the second author for a semisimple Lie algebra.