The discourse of colonial withdrawal : A case study in the creation of mythic discourse

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

46 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations


Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-477
Journal / PublicationDiscourse and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1997


Based on a large corpus of speeches, interviews, public meetings, writings, and other pronouncements, this paper critically examines the discourse of the last British Hong Kong governor, Chris Patten, in the five years leading up to the change of sovereignty over Hong Kong from Britain to China, in 1997. The thesis of the paper is that in its focus on four issues - the free market economy, the freedom of the individual, the rule of law, and democracy - each of which was designed to highlight an aspect of what Patten promoted as Britain's legacy to Hong Kong, Patten's discourse can be characterized in terms of a myth concerned with ensuring that Britain could withdraw from its last major colony with honour. The paper analyses four discursive strategies used by Patten in the promotion of his myth: the transformation of old political genres and the introduction of new ones, presupposition, involvement (the use of indexicals), and lexical structuring and reiteration. As such, the paper is presented as a case study in the creation of mythical discourse in the field of politics.

Research Area(s)

  • Critical discourse analysis, Genre, Hong Kong, Indexicals, Involvement, Lexis, Myth, Political discourse, Presupposition