Discourse and Human Rights Violations (Benjamins Current by Christine Anthonissen, Jan Blommaert

By Christine Anthonissen, Jan Blommaert

First released as a different factor of the Journal of Language and Politics 5:1 (2006), this choice of papers focuses, from a few diversified disciplinary views, on elements of language and communique in respectable tactics of facing tense pasts. it's a textual content that belongs to the style of speaking approximately discomfort, approximately nation violence, approximately uncovering suppressed truths. Linguists and several other social scientists examine discourses, often ones generated in the course of hearings of the South African fact and Reconciliation fee (TRC), scrutinizing them for the way trauma is articulated and occasionally triumph over, for the way confrontational discourses are publicly controlled, for a way, after gross human rights violations, reconciliation will be mediated. Language is seen as an device of confronting a tense previous, of negotiating clash, and of beginning approaches of therapeutic for people in addition to in groups.

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This creates contexts for authoritative discourse, as we suggested above. But at the same time, it contains risks of pretextual gaps: the subaltern voices may not always fit well in the format in which they are placed (cf. Maryns and Blommaert 2002). The suggestion of authority contained in the framing of the TRC hearings is not always matched by the accomplishment of real authority by narrators. Previously existing, structural forms of social and cultural inequality may percolate into the hearings, over and beyond attempts to grant power to the powerless.

We wish to demonstrate the importance of looking at discourse work in the TRC hearings, for it tells us a lot about the type of meanings and information produced in the hearings — thus, it may provide a sounder basis for using these data as historical documents. It also speaks to the wider framework in which the hearings, as historical events, have to be set: social, political and cultural contexts which both provide interpretive frames for what is being performed, and suggest insights into the often invisible structures that control or determine what can be observed at other levels as processes of transformation in societies.

Scott starts from a view in which, in conditions of oppression, the powerful and the oppressed share public transcripts — ways of talking to and about each other and ways of dealing with each other, in public — but simultaneously have in-group hidden transcripts, discourses about themselves, the others, and the relationships between both groups. To the realm of the public transcripts belong forms of social etiquette, arguments, behaviors, but also stories and accounts that regulate the status quo and maintain as well as express and fortify power and inequality.

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