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Accepted Paper:

Savimbi's deceptive speech: translation as a political weapon  
Ariel Rolim (University of Sao Paulo)

Paper short abstract:

Jonas Savimbi, the rebel leader during the Angolan civil war, often made contrasting statements in different languages, according to his audience. The purpose of this paper is to assess the political use translation can assume and the role discursive regimes play in political processes.

Paper long abstract:

Jonas Savimbi has become a symbol of the Angolan civil conflict that followed the struggle for independence in that country. As the leader of UNITA, the main organization to face the MPLA-led government already before independence, his image is completely intertwined with that nation's political processes, and its many stances of internationalization. In my doctoral research, I propose a consideration of the Angolan national imaginary during the conflict through an analysis of the changes in the discursive regimes and its turning points. I do so as an attempt to escape recurrent assumptions of the conflict either as a spin-off of the Cold War, or as having its origins on some sort of irreducible ethnic conundrum. In this sense, it is particularly interesting to analyze Savimbi's speeches and taking into account his different audiences, the language they speak and country of origin. Fluent in Portuguese, French, English, and many African languages, Savimbi is known for having skillfully manipulated many of his interlocutors at different stages of the conflict, according to his circumstantial agenda. On the same occasion, he could make completely different statements on a particular subject, but in different languages. In this paper, I propose to address such contrasting narratives having in consideration particular political conjunctures. In doing so, the purpose is to assess the political use translation can assume at specific moments and, more importantly, what this network of apparently contradictory statements can tell us about the role discursive regimes play in political processes lato sensu.

Panel P093
Anthropology as translation: working misunderstandings?
  Session 1