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Totalitarian and Authoritarian Discourses

A Global and Timeless Phenomenon?

Edited By Lutgard Lams, Geert Crauwels and Henrieta Anisoara Serban

This volume offers a comparative analysis of the functioning of totalitarian and authoritarian discourses and their aftermath. Whereas other studies often focus on communist/post-communist examples and hence particularize totalitarian discourse, this book starts from a more encompassing theoretical perspective, transcending the limitation of totalitarian discourse to its communist constituent.
The case studies presented in this volume thus provide a more differentiated analysis of discursive strategies in totalitarian and authoritarian regimes across the globe, including the former East Germany, former Yugoslavia, Romania, Lithuania, China, North Korea, the Philippines, Burma, Cuba and Tunisia. In addition to this geographical range, these studies also undertake new research into different eras, enabling comparison between past and present discourses. The findings are presented in three interconnected sections dealing with culture and education, media and official discourse, and power structures and politics. The extended scope of the case studies reveals the universal characteristics of totalitarian/authoritarian discourses over space and time.


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This book aims to investigate the functioning and strategies of both totali- tarian and authoritarian discourses and their aftermath.1 We analyse these discourses from a broader perspective than academic works dealing pri- marily with communist and post-communist discourses, as we focus our attention on the universality of strategies of totalitarian discourses beyond communist, fascist and Nazi political regimes. The present collection has been compiled with a view to assessing the characteristics, similarities and dif ferences, trends and consequences of totalitarian/authoritarian discourses from Cuba, former German regimes (the German Democratic Republic, or GDR, and Nazi Germany), North Korea, the Philippines, China, former Yugoslavia, Lithuania, Burma, Romania, and Tunisia. The contributors are a network of specialists who intend to capitalize on a conversation on this topic in which they have been engaged for the last half decade, thus giving rise to the gradual organic growth of this volume. It is the result of several years of seeking out cross- cultural and transnational expertise on the topic at hand. With this introduction, the editors aim brief ly to clarify the intellectual perspective and the methodological approaches underlying this volume, as well as to draw the reader’s attention to a number of essential terminological distinctions, such as those between language and discourse, and between authoritarian and totalitarian discourses. Both the theoretical chapter and the ensuing sections describe several common traits of the totalitarian dis- course across cultures, geographical areas and historical periods: the loss of subjectivity and the Othering of the individual, the cult...

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