The Truth Commission: At the Crossroads of Discourse

DOI: 10.1080/10189203.1997.9724655
Author(s): Arran Stibbe,, Allison Ross,


On April 15, 1996, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) sat for the first time in East London, South Africa. It was not a court of law, although many of the terms used came from legal discourse. It was not a group therapy session, although many terms came from psychotherapeutic discourse. And it was not a religious ceremony, though many terms came from religious discourse. Exactly what it was, and is, is a matter of ideological contention. In this paper we analyse how the media represented and constructed a phenomenon which had never been seen in South Africa before, the Truth Commission. We discuss a range of metaphorical adaptions and intertextual borrowings which were used to construct the concept of the TRC. These observations are incorporated into a theoretical model based on prototype theory and metaphor theory.

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