Publication details [#57275]

Marinelli, Maurizio. 2013. Disembodied words. The ritualistic quality of political discourse in the era of Jiang Zemin. In Tian, Hailong, Paul Chilton and Qing Cao, eds. Discourse, Politics and Media in Contemporary China. (Discourse approaches to Politics, Society and Culture 54). John Benjamins. pp. 25–46.
Publication type
Article in book
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins


This paper addresses the topic of the political use of formalized language, through the analysis of crucial political documents selected from the numerous speeches that former Chinese Communist Party’s Secretary and President of the People’s Republic of China Jiang Zemin delivered on the Party’s policy towards the intellectuals in the period 1990–1999. The analysis of the specific forms of power embodied in the properties and functions of language practices and discursive formations illuminates various possibilities for normalization and inculcation of formalized language in the understudied decade of the 1990s, when the mantra ‘Without stability, nothing can be achieved’ became a tautology. The internal constitution of the selected texts is examined with an eye to the dialogic interaction with the production and reception of Mao Zedong’s and Deng Xiaoping’s political discourses on intellectuals. The analysis of language practices and discursive formations in a comparative perspective sheds light on the respective socio-political and historical contexts. It also reveals the extreme involution-devolution of formalized language in the Jiang Zemin era, when ‘preserving stability’ was reaffirmed as a crucial concern of the Party leadership with the ultimate aim to preserve its monopoly of power.