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Loch Piny Owacho: The Luo cognitive semantic models of political contest

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In this paper, I construct a linguistic framework for understanding contrasting conceptions of political contest. That framework is illustrated by applying it to the particular case of Luo of Kenya in the wider context of the country’s conflictual ethno-politics.The article, which rests on a conception of political contest as a structure of competition in which individuals and ethnic communities compete for political supremacy (over others, or at the expense of others), analyses selected instances of recent texts from online blogs, music and recorded public meetings. The article shows that, just like many other language communities, Luo key concepts and understandings emanate from its social and cultural institutions. Also, as those activities serve as source domains for other areas of social existence, including politics, the article argues that the conceptual metaphors deriving from frames such as POLITICAL CONTEST IS HUNTING/WAR/ WRESTLING/A FOOTBALL MATCH or POLITICAL CONTEST IS WOOING A WIFE are still common among the Luo today, even though some issues like hunting and war are no longer matters of everyday life. As the article argues, understanding the Luo Idealized Cognitive Models (ICMs) of political contest may be very useful in peace and conflict studies.
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Keywords: beliefs; cultural schema; ideology; loch piny owacho; political contest

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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