Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


Rhetorical Complexity of Advocating Intercultural Peace: Post-World War II Peace Discourse

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Media and Communication

First Advisor

Alberto González (Advisor)

Second Advisor

John Dowd (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Ellen Gorsevski (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Sheila Roberts (Other)


This dissertation focuses on the rhetorical discourse advocating for peace in the postwar intercultural community centering Japan in the succeeding 70 years since the end of WWII in Asia in 1945. It interrogates the rhetorical complexity of current engagements with intercultural peace-building through the analysis of three sets of speeches between 2015 to 2017. In doing so, this dissertation aims to contribute itself to the process of restoring and enhancing the relationship among the relevant intercultural communities. By employing generative criticism, the rhetorical investigation explores the hidden role of culture and social practices, and challenges the Western-dominant rhetorical approach and then broadens the rhetorical approach.

The overarching research questions are: (1) How is peace discourse symbolically constructed and negotiated in the postwar intercultural community among Japan and its wartime enemies and victims, and (2) How does the peace discourse advocate for negative peace and positive peace in the postwar intercultural community? There are three case studies and three sub-questions. The first case study is Abe danwa by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in Asia. This chapter unpacks the three primary rhetorical efforts around the expression of apologies, negative peace, and positive peace. The second case study is the statements in Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor by President Barack Obama of the U.S. and Prime Minister Abe. While applying ideograph, it elucidates how and persuasively warrant the use of rhetorical powers. The end of this chapter proposes the concept of intercultural ideograph. The third case study is the annual Hiroshima Peace Declarations. The chapter reveals that, through the process of guilt-redemption, Hiroshima Peace Declarations invite the audience to adapt the new perspective of living in the world where all human lives would co-exist without the fear of atomic weapons.

While centering the value of peace, the end of the dissertation calls for future scholarship at the intersections of studies of intercultural rhetoric, critical intercultural communication, and critical rhetoric. It closes by offering practical implications for intercultural peace advocators working toward harmonious relationships among the involved communities in the post-conflict situation.