Political dialogue across time, space and genres

Recontextualization of “Rivers of Blood” and legitimation of (verbal) aggression

In: International Review of Pragmatics
Paul Chilton University of Warwick UK Coventry

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Monika Kopytowska University of Łódź Poland Łódź

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The objective behind this paper is to outline an integrated cognitive-social-pragmatic approach to the re-emergence of far-right cultic politics along with the role of social media in enhancing the dialogic impact of contemporary discourses of hostility. We start from the assumption that while deixis and speech acts enable attribution of status functions and deontic powers, and thus legitimation on the level of discourse (which is key in construction of the self vis-à-vis others), cyberspace, with the semiotic affordances it offers, creates a conducive environment for expanding the dialogue between cult figures and their audiences across time, space and genres. In this way the Internet and online discursive practices enhance the impact and visibility of messages legitimizing aggression, simultaneously playing an important role in cult formation. As a case in point, we will analyse Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech and its recontextualizations 50 years later.

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