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Ralph Cintron

Name: Ralph Cintron, University of Illinois, Chicago

Presentation Title: "Can Rhetorical Studies Intersect with Ethnography? A Discussion on Transparency and the Making of Political Life in Chicago, Kosova, and Elsewhere"

Date: November 11, 2004


This paper will make several claims. (1) Explicitly I want to talk about transparency and how it functions in three domains: the linguistic, the psycho-cognitive, and in the political economy. Scholars in rhetorical studies are very familiar with ancient debates regarding the nature of language: how transparent can language be if it is inherently metaphorical, can it represent TRUTH, and so on? But transparency is more widely understood in the context of political economy. We ask things like: Is such and such a government transparent, or are the accounting procedures of such and such a company transparent, and so on? So the primary and explicit goal of this paper is to enquire into the range of use regarding the concept of transparency and its inherent contradictions. (2) A secondary and mostly implicit goal of this paper is to make a case for what I have called in the past "a rhetoric of the everyday" or what I am now calling a "materialist rhetoric." These terms defend a move in rhetorical studies to become more anthropological in outlook and ethnographic in methodology. Indeed, this interest in transparency has emerged because of my fieldwork among Puerto Rican political organizations in Chicago as well as fieldwork among Kosovar Albanians associated with the Ministry of Health in the Provisional Self-Government of Kosova. This paper will also draw on other examples of transparency (or lack of) such as the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq.