Special Issue, 45:3, pages 212-224
Orality and Presence: Relational Rhetorics in Latin American Contexts
Abstract: Because evanescent oral phenomena present hermeneutical and representational dilemmas, orality remains an elusive and underestimated force in histories of rhetoric. This essay raises the profile of orality by attending to its cultural value and political resonance in historical and modern Latin America. In the encounter period, both the indigenous and the Europeans express preferences for the oral in legal, religious, and political contexts. In the modern period, a progressive political class adopts the oral as medium of choice for strengthening and diversifying civil society. Following theorists Diane Davis, Steven Mailloux, and Walter Ong, this essay treats orality as a relational phenomenon potentially instructive in a twenty-first century climate where recognizing the “presence” of Latin America is a political and ethical priority.