A Rhetorical analysis of political discourse: the first ministers' conference on aboriginal constitutional matters
AdvisorFlanagan, Thomas E.
AuthorChiste, Katherine Beaty
LccE 92 C44 1991
LcshIndians of North America - Canada - Government relations - 1934-
Indians of North America - Canada - Constitutional law
Canada - Constitution - Amendments
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThe four First Ministers' Conferences on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters held between 1983 and 1987 were widely judged to have failed, in that no agreement was reached on entrenching a constitutional amendment on self-government. However, the conferences did serve successfully as a forum in which aboriginal spokesmen could polish and promulgate what I term the "counter-discourse" on aboriginal peoples and the Canadian state. This dissertation offers an analysis of the new discourse's rhetorical power, as well as its stark contrasts with traditional "Western" thinking about the role of native peoples in contemporary society. The Western discourse sees native peoples as a disadvantaged element in a multi-cultural state; it is a political discourse oriented toward the future. The counterdiscourse, however, is rooted in the past and sees native peoples as the same "nations" they were centuries ago. In many ways the counter-discourse is reminiscent of poetry rather than politics, of myth rather than history; it has a visionary quality. Communication between proponents of the Western discourse and the counter one is difficult indeed, as their first principles conflict. Although a "historical" analysis of the counter-discourse renders some of its· claims problematic, this discourse nevertheless has had a significant political impact; it informs the outlook of most of the current generation of native leaders. While the linear course of history has largely eclipsed the native population of Canada, the discourse of vision provides them a means by which to fight the passage of time and recapture their political importance. The counter-discourse is a weapon constructed of language, expressing a vision whose dialectic with material reality has yet to unfold but whose influence is continuing to grow.
Bibliography: p. 236-240.
CitationChiste, K. B. (1991). A Rhetorical analysis of political discourse: the first ministers' conference on aboriginal constitutional matters (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/15905
InstitutionUniversity of Calgary
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