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'Talking to the desert' : discourse, power, and Libyan geopolitics 1969-2009

Gulam, Khaled 2010. 'Talking to the desert' : discourse, power, and Libyan geopolitics 1969-2009. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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This research examines Libyan geopolitical discourse over the 40 years from 1969 to 2009 that is, the period following the revolution which brought Muammar Abu Minyar Al-Qaddafi to the leadership of that country. It asks how and why Libyan geopolitical discourse changed over this period. To answer this question, it reviews the scholarly literature bearing on Qaddafi and Libya's international and strategic relations; it analyses 188 speeches delivered by Qaddafi; it examines interviews, books and documents by him; and it draws on interviews conducted by the author with Libyan political commentators. It hypothesises that, in response to threats to Libyan sovereignty and survival, Qaddafi repeatedly shifted Libyan geopolitical discourse in a way that amounted to a tactically polyvalent responsive-defensive strategy. In sustaining the hypothesis, it makes several findings. It methodically establishes that Qaddafi was the progenitor of Libyan geopolitical discourse. It reveals the ideational content of Qaddafi's discourse in terms of its lexicology, placing him within the Arab nationalist lexicon derived from Nasserism. It demonstrates that Qaddafi used, mainly, three verbal discursive strategies in constructing and reconstructing Libyan geopolitical discourse lexical reiteration, presupposition and indexicals plus visual imagery and symbolism. It argues a three-stage periodisation of Libyan geopolitical discourse: pan-Arab, pan-African and Libya as a nation-for- itself. These changes at geopolitical level, however, never challenged Qaddafi's and Libya's commitment to their Arab identity. It finds that discursive change came as a response to threats to Libyan sovereignty or security and was intended to defend Libya against, or mitigate, these threats. It reveals subtleties in his view of Libyan security as a means to unite Arab and African worlds, rather than preferring one over the other. That is to say, Qaddafi's move towards Africa implied a rejection of Arab governments but not of the Arab world, of which he continued to consider himself and Libya a part. And, finally it finds that, although discourses appeared sometimes to be mutually or internally contradictory, they were intended to serve the same strategy: namely to protect Libyan sovereignty and security. That is to say, discursive change served a tactically polyvalent responsive-defensive strategy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
ISBN: 9781303191299
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2014 14:15

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