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The Power of Conviction: Nassrallah's Rhetoric and Mediated Charisma in the Context of the 2006 July War

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This paper addresses two inter-related aspects of Hizbullah's political communication strategies: the mediated charisma of its Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nassrallah and his religious-political discourse. It focuses on two of his political speeches that framed the July 2006 war with Israel, widely seen as a Hizbullah victory that enhanced its popularity among Arab and Muslim populations within and outside of Lebanon. The paper starts with an overview of the group's transformation from an Islamist resistance movement into a powerful political party in Lebanon and outlines Nassrallah's rise in power and authority. It then assesses Nassrallah's mediated charisma and political-religious discourse and highlights the ways in which both draw on historical and cultural repertoires to produce a hyper-populist narrative that appeals to the intended audience—Lebanese nationals—in a particular historical moment. These cultural repertoires, what Foucault calls ‘episteme’, provide meaning and legitimacy to discourses and worldviews. The paper concludes that Nassrallah's mediated charisma and his political-religious discourse provide compelling forms of rhetorical political communication that can be effective in specific contexts.


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