University of Cambridge > > Centre of African Studies Lent Seminar Series > How to do Resistance with Words: Nationalism, Afrocentrism and Oratory in Abidjan's Street Parliaments

How to do Resistance with Words: Nationalism, Afrocentrism and Oratory in Abidjan's Street Parliaments

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Part of the seminar series: Media and Intellectual Productions in Africa's Pasts and Presents

During the years of the Ivorian crisis, the movement of the “jeunes patriotes” gave life to a network of street parliaments where orators uttered a virulent nationalist and anticolonial discourse. In these “parlements” (also known as “agora” or “congrès”), a day-by-day commentary of political events was proposed to audiences, framing it within new narratives of African history, Here the nationalist stance was mingled with afrocentric and panafricanist doctrines, and with a discourse on deliverance articulated by Pentecostal pastors and prophets. “Western” narrations of history were denounced as rhetoric weapons, aimed at obviating the recognition of African presence and contribute to history. In order to counter them, the orators explicitly constructed a regime of truth wielding a performative power: the power of regenerating an imagined African self and its agency in history. Audiences and orators where thus involved in an public, shared process of political and moral subjectivation, where speaking and hearing amounted to react against subjugation, to build an inner and a public resistance, to struggle for the Ivorian nation. In order to describe and to account for such a process, my presentation will be based on a reflexive ethnographic approach, where a cultural analysis of patriotic discourse will be complemented by an analysis of performance within this specific setting of public space.

Armando Cutolo, (PhD Social Anthropology, prof. agregé., University of Siena), carries research in Cote d’Ivoire since the end of the Nineties. His has worked and published on relations of personal dependence, on generations and the politics of history in the Anno region, and on social and critical theory. Since 2002 he has started an ethnographic investigation among the “jeunes patriotes” in Abidjan, with a specific focus on political oratory and street parliaments.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Lent Seminar Series series.

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