Esposito, Eleonora (2015) The 'We Will Rise' 2010 Election Campaign: the Discursive Construction of Political and National Identities in Trinidad and Tobago. [Tesi di dottorato]


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Item Type: Tesi di dottorato
Resource language: English
Title: The 'We Will Rise' 2010 Election Campaign: the Discursive Construction of Political and National Identities in Trinidad and Tobago
Date: 30 March 2015
Institution: Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Department: Scienze Politiche
Scuola di dottorato: Scienze psicologiche e pedagogiche
Dottorato: Lingua inglese per scopi speciali
Ciclo di dottorato: 27
Coordinatore del Corso di dottorato:
Di Martino,
Date: 30 March 2015
Keywords: Political Discourse; Critical Discourse Analysis; Trinidad and Tobago
Settori scientifico-disciplinari del MIUR: Area 10 - Scienze dell'antichità, filologico-letterarie e storico-artistiche > L-LIN/12 - Lingua e traduzione - lingua inglese
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2015 10:45
Last Modified: 15 May 2018 01:00
DOI: 10.6093/UNINA/FEDOA/10310

Collection description

From its colonial history, the twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago inherited a uniquely diverse population of 1.3 million, including descendants of East Indians, Africans, Chinese, Syrians and Lebanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese and British, among others. The legacy of the British divide et impera, paired with the perceived ethnic diversity, has been marking and re-producing a deep "Us vs. Them" division, especially between the two major ethnic groups of East Indians (35.4%) and Africans (34.2%). For over forty years, the two ethnic groups have been struggling for political control through census counts and voting along ethnic lines. Although elections in the country have always served as "the critical arbiter in adjudicating the rival claims by the main ethno-cultural communities for power and privilege" (Premdas 2004: 19), the 2010 General Election seemed to have marked a turning point in the history of the nation. On May 24th, Trinidad and Tobago elected Kamla Persad-Bissessar, its first female Prime Minister and only the second person of East Indian origin to hold the PM office in 48 years of independence. Breaking out of the country's rigid bipolar political mould, Persad-Bissessar won as the leader of the People's Partnership, a new coalition party that comprised both East Indian and African political forces and movements. She defeated Patrick Manning's People's National Movement and succeeded in winning 29 seats out of the 41 in the House of Representatives. Taking this unprecedented political success as its starting point, this dissertation explores the discursive and political strategies behind Persad-Bissessar's election, analyzing a large corpus of textual and visual data from the People's Partnership campaign. The starting assumption is that Persad-Bissessar broadened her electorate not only by presenting a carefully engineered coalition party but also by discursively positing a new, inclusive identity space throughout the campaign and advocating a politics of inter-ethnic harmony in the country. Therefore, I set to analyze how Persad-Bissessar engaged in a multi-levelled discursive construction of identities, defining her role as the first woman PM candidate in the history of the country, legitimizing her coalition solution to political tribalisms, as well as fostering a wider national sense of belonging. As political communication has increasingly grown beyond the realm of verbal language, understanding Persad-Bissessar's political meaning-making required both the analysis of her election speeches as well as the study of a number of multimodal texts, such as video and printed ads as well as official portraits, which played a crucial role in the political advertising of her coalition. Within a Critical Discourse Analysis framework, I will combine the 'Discourse-Historical Approach' (Wodak and Meyer 2009) for the analysis of Persad-Bissessar's textual data and Kress and van Leeuwen's (1996) 'Visual Grammar' for the analysis of the visual data. Although the English-speaking Caribbean is home to the largest set of continuing democracies among postcolonial countries around the globe, political discourse from the archipelago is yet to receive adequate scholarly attention. The analysis of political discourse in Trinidad and Tobago has the potential to shed light on the complexities, struggles and contradictions of the postcolonial Trinidad and Tobago by integrating knowledge about historical sources and the social and political environment within which discourse as social practice is embedded. Starting from the analysis of political discourse, this work aims at offering a new, discursive perspective on ethnicity, identity and power in Trinidad and Tobago as well as increasing scholarly awareness for the development of a critical interpretative stance for political texts and talks beyond the Euro-American zone.


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