Communication ETDs

Publication Date



The overarching purpose of this project is to theorize how marginalized communities engage with dominant discourses and to locate possibilities for agency in contesting dominant representations of marginalized groups. I selected two discursive events as instances of a larger U.S. immigration discourse--the enactment of SB 1070 in Arizona and the publication of a column in TIME Magazine in which the author decries the influx of South Asians to his hometown of Edison, NJ. I then modified critical discourse analysis to examine weblog responses to these events by two diasporic communities interpellated by them--(undocumented) Latino/a immigrants and South Asian immigrants. Drawing upon a theory of constitutive rhetoric, I look at ways that members of these two groups are interpellated as subjects within their blogging communities. Moreover, I examine how the collective subject negotiates various identifications through a three-part diasporic identity framework consisting of structural, trans-spatial/historical, and intergroup representational positionings. I also consider the implications of the constitutive rhetoric for agency by interrogating how the blogs enable and constrain bloggers' abilities to speak about the discursive events. In addition, I interrogate bloggers' constructions of U.S. immigration discourse, identifying four ideological claims both (re)produced and challenged by the bloggers: triumphal multiculturalism; American Dream mythology; the entitlement to rights; and normative standards of acceptability. I also use a postcolonial approach to discursive engagement that considers the production of alternate subjectivities through destabilizing of the subject/object relationship. This project complicates our understanding of diasporic subjects as based on complex postcolonial subjectivities. This allows for an expanded notion of how collective subjects are constituted ontologically through the coming together of numerous points of identifications within a complex framework of diasporic identities. In addition, it links ontological status and epistemology by complicating the understanding of how and where subject positions arise, challenging assumptions of universal knowledge. Finally, it theorizes discursive engagement of members of marginalized diasporic groups by applying a dialectical perspective of agency and interpellated subjectivities and revealing how power operates through discourse to position subjects while identifying possible moments of agentic potential.




discourse, immigration, constitutive rhetoric, agency, undocumented immigrants, South Asian

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Collier, Mary Jane

First Committee Member (Chair)

Cramer, Janet

Second Committee Member

Rodriguez, Ilia

Third Committee Member

Chavez, Karma