CfP: Leaders and leaderships in contemporary political discourse

Alon Lischinsky alischinsky at
Mon Sep 16 08:28:39 UTC 2013

(With apologies for cross-posting)

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Leaders and leaderships in contemporary political discourse
Laboratoire Communication et Politique-CNRS, Paris, France

Being a leader in the Americas and Europe
Leaders and leaderships in contemporary political discourse

International Colloquium
Maison de l'Amérique Latine
Laboratoire Communication et Politique-CNRS
19-21 November 2014

Papers may be in French, Spanish, Portuguese or English.

Further information may be obtained at

Contact: info at

Proposals should be sent by December 15 2013.

"Leader" and "leadership" are powerful expressions in contemporary
political vocabulary. But what exactly is meant by these two terms?
Can we differentiate between them and, if necessary, based on which
criteria? In any case, it is undeniable that the figure of the leader
is built and it manifests itself in discourse, and that leadership is
the product of that construction, while at the same time being the
source of a new creation. Indeed, especially discourses defined the
image of leaders and as such were an important part in the elaboration
of their leaderships. This was the case of the Dakar speech delivered
by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in July 2007, known and publicised
through the massive circulation of the following extract: "the African
man has never really entered history". This was also the case of
Néstor Kirchner's ESMA (Escuela Superior de Mecánica de la Armada)
speech, which embodied the struggle for (historic) memory and justice,
and against impunity and oblivion in Argentina of the previous decade.
Another example is the "A more perfect Union" speech by the then USA
presidential candidate, Barack Obama, in Philadelphia in March 2008,
were he expressed his vision on the racial question in the USA.

In addition to the speeches of politicians, other types of discourse
also contribute to the construction of leaders and leaderships. Here
we can mention the role of media discourse in which the proliferation
of neologisms derived from politician's names demonstrates the growing
personalisation of politics: "Blairism", "Berlusconism", "Chavism" or
"Lulism" or even "Merkozy", "Merkollande" just to name a few. One may
wonder if these types of use are  central in the establishment of
leadership. Notwithstanding, widespread use in media of such terms and
phrases suggests that the time of "great leaders" in Europe and in the
Americas is not yet over.

In this context, the issue of the figure of the leader and of the
notion of leadership finds its legitimation. We propose to address it
through its discursive construction. In other words, the key is to
consider the ways in which leaders and leaderships emerge and evolve
in a process of discursive co-construction, involving various social
actors: the leaders themselves, but also the media, the citizen body
and even the scientific community.

The objective of this colloquium is to contribute to a better
understanding, from a multidisciplinary perspective, of topics related
to leadership. A multidisciplinary approach will help us, in fact,
relate the linguistic, discursive and argumentative mechanisms called
in the co-construction of both the figure of the leader and the
leadership with knowledge from various disciplines, such as History,
political science, political philosophy and social psychology.
Discourse is the focus of this conference, and as such corpus studies
will be preferred. Our desire is to try to break down barriers between
disciplines to engage in a common reflection on a common and
transnational subject: the issue of leaders and leaderships in
political discourse.

This colloquium also aims to exchange points of view of researchers
from diverse geographical horizons about this common object of
inquiry. The comparison can be done at different levels, namely
between different countries / cultures belonging to different
geographical areas (European countries / Latin American countries),
between different countries / cultures belonging to the same
geographical area (Argentina / Brazil) and within the same country. In
this way, we seek to answer this question: how do comparative analysis
prove to be relevant for a better understanding of the figure of the
leader and leadership?

In this perspective, we propose, not exhaustively, the following thematic axes:

    * From a charismatic to a populist leader: similarities and
differences in discourse. This axis provides the space to inquiry
about issues related to populism, charisma and identifying features of
a populist discourse.
    * Representations and imaginaries in the construction of the
figure of the leader and of his leadership. Which representations and
social imaginaries can be seen in this construction process? Can we
identify the emergence of a new imaginary characteristic of a
    * The failure in policy: counterexamples of leaders. Are there
leaders without leadership? What place could we give to "failures" in
politics and how to analyse them?
    * Leaders seen by the media. We will focus on the influence of
media discourse in the construction of the figure of the leader and of
the leadership. The analysis of slogans and sound bites find its place
    * Leaders and gestures. We will focus on verbal interaction in the
political sphere and, more specifically, on the gestures and
physicality in politics. In which ways helps gesture to build the
figure of a leader and strengthen its leadership?

Proposals may be submitted in French, Spanish, Portuguese and English.
The official language of the conference is French, but papers can also
be presented in other languages. However, participants will be asked
to use power point slides in French.

Following this event, we plan to publish papers on different media:
books and magazines in print and / or electronic.

December 15, 2013: Submission of proposals to the email
info at in two files Word: 1) the first includes
the name of the author(s), their institutional affiliation, their
email address, title of the proposal, a summary maximum of 500 words,
5 references and 5 keywords, 2) the second must be anonymous with the
title of the proposal only and a summary of 500 words, 5 references
and 5 keywords.
February 17, 2014: Response to the proposals.
May 2014: Opening of the registration.
November 19-21, 2014: Date of Colloquium.

Confirmed Keynotes Speakers:
Leonor ARFUCH (Universidad de Buenos Aires)
Patrick CHARAUDEAU (Université de Paris 13, CNRS - LCP)
Georges COUFFIGNAL (IHEAL-CREDA - Paris 3 - Sorbonne nouvelle)
Rut DIAMINT (Universidad Torcuato Di Tella)
Ida Lucia MACHADO (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais)
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