Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In a recent article on post-truth Keane (2018) characterizes the phenomenon as consisting of a mix of outright lies and exaggerations, buffoonery, hair splitting and silencing. These are indeed some of the basic ingredients through which the heterodystopian White House constructs its versions of reality. I will exemplify such discursive process through the notion of chronotope, understood as a frame connecting space, time and identities (Agha, 2007, Bommaert & De Fina 2017). I will analyze how constructions that link spatiotemporal parameters and specific identities both at a national and a transnational level are mobilized in talk about migration by Trump. I will argue that it is in a mix of chronotopes that are precisely identifiable in time and space and of chronotopes whose spatiotemporal anchorage remains vague that the seeds of post-truth are planted. I will analyze twitter messages and speeches produced by Trump on migration that received particular attention by the national press to show how this mix of chronotopes can engender confusion and negative reactions to migration and migrants. In Trump’s discourse, migration is presented as an immediate and concrete danger with a local and specific spatiotemporal dimension represented by two opposing worlds, present day America and Mexico. On the other hand, Trump circulates images and tropes that form a chronotope that has a transnational and more vague spatial dimension: that of a world in chaos where “immigrants” are ready to invade “civilized countries” such as Sweden, the UK or even Spain.