Talking Politics

Oratory and Authority in a Tswana Chiefdom

Publication Date:

Journal: Political Language and Oratory in Traditional Societies

Reissue Date:

Editors: Maurice Bloch

Publisher City: London, New York

In this analysis of political oratory in a South African chiefdom, John Comaroff analyses the ways in which public speech is deployed as a vehicle for the negotiation of relations of power and authority – and their contestation. Isolating two different forms of oratory that are used in juxtaposition with one another as a means of establishing and extending – or conversely, undermining – the legitimacy of rulers, the essay explores the connection between the grammar of expressive practices in strategic public performances and their impact on the exercise of sovereignty. And on freedom of speech in everyday political life.

Other Essays