Sign Systems Studies

Volume 33, Issue 2, 2005

Daniele Monticelli
Pages 317-341

From globality to partiality
Semiotic practices of resistance to the discourse of war

This paper examines the discourse of war from a semiotic point of view and suggests some ideas for the development of practices of resistance to it. The discourse of war can be considered symptomatic in respect to underlying discourses of totality such as globalisation. By aiming at explanatory simplification, this kind of discourse takes the paradoxical form of an exhaustive paradigm which always engenders a residuum to be eliminated. Semiotics can develop practices of resistance to the discourse of war by operating on the syntagmatic chains generated by its mediatic agencies. These practices are based on the postmodernist critique of totalising discourses. A process in which details are disconnected from the mediatic chains where they vanish might trigger the opening of a space of community that makes the residuum of war discourse presentable through metaphorical substitutions. Semiotic practices of resistance to the discourse of war presuppose a shift in theory from the paradigm of globality to that of partiality. Partiality must be understood both from a political and an epistemological point of view and it could therefore represent an important element in the development of a semioethics.