Dr Philippe-Joseph Salazar, Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Director of the Centre for Rhetoric Studies at the University of Cape Town, was the ninth recipient of the Award and the third from UCT. Trained in philosophy at the Ecole normale superieure in Paris, he studied under some of France’s most important intellectuals such as Emmanuel Levinas, Roland Barthes and Marc Fumaroli. He also read linguistics, metaphysics and political science at the Sorbonne and received a PhD in social and cultural anthropology as well as a rarely awarded DLitt et Phil.
A past director in rhetoric at College international de philosophie and a sought-after speaker and writer, his publications span the theory, history and culture of rhetoric. Among these, Ideologies de l’opera (1980), Le Culte de la voix (1995), An African Athens: Rhetoric and the Shaping of Democracy in South Africa (2002) and Mahomet (2005) have garnered special praise.
In 2007, he co-authored, with Erik Doxtader, Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: The Fundamental Documents. Locally, Salazar’s work has defined and energised the field of Rhetoric Studies, an area of inquiry that has significant theoretical and practical benefits for a society making the transition to democracy and he offers important insights into the ways in which public deliberation and debate serve to shape the process of nation-building. He also directs a number of international projects in public rhetoric and holds an A1 rating from the National Research Foundation.
On receiving the Award at a function at Brenthurst in early 2009, Salazar remarked “As an Oppenheimer laureate, I will have a unique opportunity to devote my time to research, writing and scholarly collaborations in the USA, notably at George Washington University, preparing a book on presidential rhetoric. I see this as a momentous furtherance of my previous work. A way, indeed, to bring it to a higher level, to produce innovative and significant scholarship and to continue to contribute to public debate.”