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Formulating emancipatory discourses and reconstructing resistance: a positive discourse analysis of Sukarno’s speech at the first Afro-Asian conference

Pages 22-38
Received 16 Nov 2018
Accepted 27 Feb 2019
Published online: 14 May 2019
Translator disclaimer


In this article, we analyze a seven-page speech delivered by Sukarno, first president of Indonesia, at the opening of the First Asia-Africa Conference where he advocated Afro-Asian unity/ solidarity as the panacea for colonialism, imperialism, and neocolonialism. Our aim, by focusing on a single text, is to demonstrate the role of an intensive analysis of ‘outstanding’ singular texts within the broad field of discourse analysis. The analysis is rooted within a positive discourse analysis (PDA) framework, with special focus on lexical choices and variation, modality, intertextuality/interdiscursivity, metaphorical representations, ideological use of pronouns, indexical meaning, and strategies of argumentation. Through these rhetorical techniques, we illustrate how an independence leader constructs an emancipatory discourse aimed at reconciling the ideas and beliefs of the leaders of two continents that have a common history of colonialism. The study sheds light on the role of key speeches and political leaders in promoting an emancipatory discourse, and exemplifies how (presidential) rhetoric can be construed as offering a message of hope, strength, and inspiration while playing the role of a unifier, thereby highlighting the major underlying assumption of PDA: a commitment to a discourse of social change.


The authors would want to sincerely think two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

Notes on contributors

Mark Nartey is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He specializes in corpus-assisted discourse studies and the theory, methods and application of critical discourse analysis in political and media discourses. His PhD project examines the relationship between discourse, ideology and mythology, taking as a medium of investigation the discourse of Kwame Nkrumah, a pioneering Pan-African leader. He has previously published in Corpora, Social Semiotics, Critical Discourse Studies and Journal of Language and Politics.

Ernanda holds an MA in Linguistics from Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen and a PhD in Linguistics from Leiden University. She is also a former Research Associate at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and currently a lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities at Jambi University, Indonesia. Her research interests include morphosyntax and morphophonology, but she is currently focusing on discourse analysis, pragmatics and grammaticalization. Ernanda may be contacted at:


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