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A Rhetorical Analysis of the Campesinos Sin Tierra Struggle for Land Reform in Paraguay

Gillette, John R. (2005) A Rhetorical Analysis of the Campesinos Sin Tierra Struggle for Land Reform in Paraguay. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation analyzes the rhetorical situation of the peasant-driven land reform struggle in the country of Paraguay. While the term "Campesinos Sin Tierra" unites the many different groups participating in the struggle, this work specifically identifies the character of many peasant organizations at local and national levels of participation as well as exploring the attitudes and contributions of individual peasants. The struggle is situated within both historical and rhetorical contexts. The historical importance of land tenure practices is recognized and traced from pre-Columbian civilization to the present. The concept of land as a socio-political instrument as well as an economic resource is explored and related to the present politics of land reform. In addition, the nature of peasant organization, protest strategies, argumentation and success are thoroughly investigated and elucidated in this work. Through on-site research, interviews and translation of newspaper accounts and academic students of Paraguayan peasants, the dissertation develops a thick description of peasant perspectives in the struggle. Particular attention is devoted to unearthing argument strategies and the specific language employed by individual peasant protestors, peasant organizations and other groups. An analysis of these argument strategies constitutes the basis for evaluating the struggle as a new social movement in the context of social movement theory. Finally, the dissertation proposes that "rhetoripolitical" practices structure and constrain the argumentative and protest strategies employed in the struggle and serve to explain its failure as a new social movement. Rhetoripolitics functions as a hegemonic process of argumentative cooptation that both limits protest innovation and safeguards the social order from social protest activity. Rhetoripolitics is discussed as a historical and cultural phenomenon situated within the cultural milieu of Paraguay and the Paraguayan land reform struggle. The dissertation concludes by suggesting that rhetoripolitics could structure the nature of social struggles in other developing nations and place constraints upon the nature of social protest as it has in the Paraguayan case. Rhetoripolitics may function as an important limit to the ability of nations in the developing world to participate in the new social movement phenomenon.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Gillette, John
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMitchell, GordonGordonm@pitt.eduGORDONM
Committee MemberStabile, Carolcstabile@pitt.eduCSTABILE
Committee MemberSimonson, Petersimonson@pitt.eduSIMONSON
Committee MemberBorzutzky,
Date: 3 February 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 1 October 2004
Approval Date: 3 February 2005
Submission Date: 7 December 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: land reform; paraguay; peasants; rhetoric
Other ID:, etd-12072004-202706
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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