Hizbullah’s Secretary General Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah and ‘What It Means To Be Lebanese’
Sclafani, Jennifer M
This paper presents an analysis of how Hizbullah’s Secretary General Nasrallah attempts to project an alternative to existing versions of a Lebanese national identity, based on an analysis of a selection of his speeches from 2005 until 2009. Methodologies from Interactional Sociolinguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis were combined, and the theoretical framework builds upon Bakhtin’s (1981) concept of dialogicality. The data was analyzed first in view of language choice and diglossic variation, and second, in view of personal deixis in order to gain insights into intersubjectivity and positioning in Nasrallah’s speeches. The findings were then put into context with insight gained from socio-political research on Hizbullah. As a result, this study argues that Nasrallah communicates a new reading of what it means to be Lebanese, challenging existing conceptualizations of Lebanese national identity. As a secularized form of its Resistance ideology, this promoted national identity is meant to appeal to the Lebanese across sectarian divisions. In place of religion, it suggests a shared understanding of moral values. This study demonstrates - as one of its main contributions to the field of discourse analysis – that context dependency and change over time apply to not only language form, but their indexed social meanings as well. Calling for a greater degree of interdisciplinarity in the analysis of political phenomena, this study aims to show that Nasrallah’s linguistic choices help him to project a specific version of what it means to be Lebanese. However, rather than being a uniting force across a fragmented Lebanese society, this narrative instead reinforces existing boundaries. In this regard, the current study demonstrates the value a discourse linguistic approach adds to the analysis of socio-political issues.
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