top of page


"How does political discourse render material an immaterial cause? The embedding of heroes and ghosts by progressivists and far-right extremists into Brazil’s political turmoil"

A talk by Dr. Daniel N. Silva (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina)

Date and Time:

01 December 2022

5pm-6:30pm (CET/UCT+1 Time Zome)

Location: Hybrid Event

In person at the Centre of Discourse Studies (Plaça del Bonsuccés, 7, entresuelo 6, 08001 Barcelona) AND online (Zoom)

Language: English and Portuguese

This is a free event, but registration is required:

Guest Speaker Daniel N. Silva.png

Talk description:


In today’s political moment, “elusive” referents – such as gender ideology, an alleged massive attendance to Trump’s inauguration, and the “deep state” – have played a significant role in shaping political debate. Digital technologies and their affordances have certainly been instrumental in producing the “presence” of such intangible referents, including their sense of threat or urgency. Yet features of discourse remain largely important for producing the efficacy of what is “real” in politics – whether what we claim as “real” is empirically verifiable or not. In this talk, I will address how political agents in Brazil invoke the deictic field (Hanks, 2005) – that is, the use of indexicals such as “I,” and “today,” alongside corporeal and perceptual affordances of interaction, and the reflexivity of agents – in calling the “presence” of particular urgent causes into being. More specifically, I will focus on the construction of the “presence” of the gendered and racialized body of Marielle Franco – a Black, lesbian, leftwing councilwoman who was assassinated in 2018, the same year that Bolsonaro was elected president – by the progressive field and the far-right camp that Bolsonaro has helped consolidate. While Bolsonaro has vilified progressive causes, such as gender equality, sex positive education, and Marielle’s legacy, Marielle and later her mourning movement have mapped her here-and-now onto mottos such as “Marielle lives,” which defy chronologic time and material presence as such. I will also focus on the deictic and performative production of other elusive referents, such as “gender ideology” and child pornography, which Bolsonaro and right-wing extremists have used worldwide to attach a sense of “alarm” and “perversion” to the progressive causes like the ones espoused by Marielle.

bottom of page