n African Journal of Rhetoric - Weaponising rhetorics of 'family' : the mobilisation of pro-family politics in Africa

Volume 10 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


In this article I identify some of the rhetorical strategies that help to explain how American ‘pro-family’ ideology has become so prolific in the global south and African contexts, despite the logic of coloniality that it reproduces. Three rhetorical strategies are analysed: The use of a rhetoric of ‘love’ in order to disguise an ideology of intolerance; The construction of hate speech as a form of ‘free speech’; and the positioning of the ‘natural family’ as congruent with imperatives of economic development and growth. The use of these rhetorical strategies, I argue, seeks to accomplish the objective of presenting pro-family agendas as benign, well meaning, and common-sense so as to obscure the forms of exclusion it promotes. This article considers texts sourced through network ethnography, online ethnography, and autoethnography at the World Congress of Families IX in order to understand the rhetorical strategies that the pro-family movement employs to bypass the colonial legacies in which it is embedded so as to gain allies in the formerly colonized world. These texts are analysed using Critical Discourse Analysis in combination with the critical ‘reading practice’ of Critical Diversity Literacy. This article also considers these rhetorical strategies in relation to the geo-political and historical contexts in which the Western concept of the nuclear family has been employed as a mechanism of colonization. Through this intersectional approach to contemporary pro-family discourses, this article concludes that this political agenda has implications not only for LGBTIQ people, but also for efforts to decolonize African societies.

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