Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Humanities

Advisor 1

Victoria Bergvall

Committee Member 1

Craig Waddell

Committee Member 2

Ramon Fonkoue

Committee Member 3

Abraham Romney

Committee Member 4

Farooq Kperogi

Abstract

In this dissertation, I conceptualize a rhetorical and linguistic analysis of politics from a decolonial framework (Mignolo, 2011; Smith, 2012). My analysis draws on classical rhetoric (Aristotle, 2007), cultural rhetoric (Mao, 2014; Powell, et al., 2014; Yankah, 1995), and linguistics (Chilton, 2004) to reveal the different ways ideological and hegemonic struggles are discursively constructed in Nigerian political campaign discourse. The data for this study come from two speeches delivered by former President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan during the 2015 electoral campaign. This includes his declaration-of-intent speech and his speech marking the commencement of his formal campaign activities. My research demonstrates the richness of conceptualizing political discourse within its immediate and larger contexts and the effectiveness of an interdisciplinary approach—which I call an integrationist approach—in unmasking the different forms of hegemonic struggle in discourse. Analysis of linguistic elements such as tenses, indexicals, and cultural metaphors and the rhetorical elements of apologia, apologies, enthymemes, call-and-response, and fictive kinship terms such as “my brother and sister” reveals that hegemonic discourse in a Nigerian context is neither autonomous, nor flowing from a single dominant power, but constituted by multiple, heteroglossic and complex processes that connect the local and the global. To this end, my analysis focuses on a dual critique of local and colonial forms of hegemonic powers that are now codified in the overall discourse of globalization. This dual orientation is necessary because the social struggles below and above the nation-state are strategic spaces of political intervention that might be ignored when the focus of the analysis privileges just the nation-state. The findings present the merits of combining decolonial epistemologies with the perspectives of linguistics and rhetoric in the analysis of politics. Particularly, such approaches have the potentials to open up ways of knowing that would otherwise be taken for granted or completely marginalized based on our positionality as academics. The awareness of the diversity of cultural ways of knowing and theorizing encourages us to learn not only from dominant Western systems of knowledge, but more inclusively from culturally different, historically marginalized ways of thinking and knowing.