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Journal Article


Barrera DJ. Asian J. Criminol. 2017; 12(4): 341-359.


(Copyright © 2017, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group)






Previous research and commentaries took a rationalist approach in making sense of the Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, and his "war on drugs." An array of descriptors has been assigned to him, ranging from a psychopath, murderer, to crisis-performing populist. In this paper, I deviate from this perspective by placing culture at the core of Duterte's war on drugs. Drawing from socio-narratology and narrative criminology, I argue that Duterte is a storyteller who is under the "hypnotic spell" of stories he has spun. I also show how these stories work for and on him, specifically on why he has embarked on his drug war, assumed controversial identities, and gained and lost alliances. Dialogical narrative analysis was used in analyzing Duterte's interviews, speeches, and media pronouncements before the 2016 elections and within his 6 months in office as president.

FINDINGS show that Duterte's stories illustrate an apocalyptic genre within a heroic saga. He views himself as situated in a continuous array of battles against the dark forces of drugs and criminals. In describing the country's drug situation, he has been weaving stories containing extreme polarization between characters, ideal motivations, and extraordinary objects of struggle. These stories, in turn, have influenced him to launch a violent war on drugs and disconnected and affiliated him to new alliances. The findings show how finite cultural, narrative resources incite human actions and suggest ways of enhancing dialog as a means of thinking about, not just with, stories in the current war on drugs in the country.

Language: en


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