The return of Gbabgo: Oratory, history and performance in Abidjan street parliaments

Armando Cutolo from the University of Siena will join us for a seminar entitled "The return of Gbabgo. Oratory, history and performance in Abidjan street parliaments".

The seminar is open to all, including bachelor and master students. No registration is required. After the seminar, drinks and snacks will be served in our lunchroom.

On the 15th of January 2019, after having being trialed for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Laurent Gbagbo has been acquitted due to lack of evidence. He has been released on the 1st February 2019 under condition, imposed by the Appeals Chamber of the ICC, of being accepted by a State willing and able to protect the integrity of the process - i.e. not permitting Gbagbo to return in Côte d’Ivoire before the appeal judgement. After the news, Gbagbo’s supporters have started a mobilization in Abidjan’s popular quarters. While denouncing the ICC as a “anti-African”, neocolonialist institution, they have reactivated the network of “street parliaments” that had played an important role during the crisis, for the diffusion of nationalist and anticolonial discourse. In these parliaments, the return of Gbagbo is presented following soteriological and prophetic terms, conferring to it religious and political meaning. In the speeches of patriotic orators, the return of the leader is presented as the beginning of a new era and, at the same time, as the fulfillment of divine plan that will take the Ivorian nation to deliverance from evil forces and emancipation from (neo)colonial subjugation. Based a field-research carried in Ivorian street parliaments in the same days (January-February 2019), the presentation will deal with the processes of moral and religious subjectivation encouraged by the performances of patriotic orators, analyzing their oratory and the “hermeneutics of history” they share with audiences in the Abidjan’s streets.

Armando Cutolo teaches anthropology at the University of Siena, in the Department of Social, Political and Cognitive Sciences. He is currently carrying research on the new biometric systems of identification and registration of citizens in Côte d’Ivoire, in the frame of the French ANR-PIAF research program on The social life of identity papers in Africa. His recent publications have focused the Ivorian nationalist movement of the jeunes patriotes and their network of street parliaments in Abidjan, analyzing the performative role of oratory in processes of moral and political subjectivation.

Published Feb. 21, 2019 10:33 AM - Last modified Mar. 4, 2019 7:10 AM