Communication ETDs

Publication Date



Public spaces where culture is co-constructed and performed by a community of people are rich sites for research on identity formation. This thesis explores the poetry slam as a space where poets and audiences co-construct and perform individual and group identities. From a social constructionist approach to identity formation and through the theories and methods of performance studies, the research design combines participant observation, interviews, and focus groups to elucidate the values and performative acts that define the distinct identity of the local slam community in Albuquerque, NM. The analysis of data identifies five major themes (authenticity, affecting change, building community, representing multivocality, and becoming a poet) that convey shared values in this community. It also discusses eighteen performative acts that suggest how poets and audiences perform the values held central to the identity of the slam. These performative acts illustrate ways in which listening, sharing, and performing is wholly unique to the slam community. The research findings also suggest that complementary roles and interdependent relationships performed by poets and audiences construct and maintain the slam space as unique space where poets and audiences gain and affirm a sense of identity by doing. It is argued that the communication practices, relations and assumed roles described in this thesis are constitutive of the slam space and its performed identity.




Poetry, Slam, Poetry Slam, Space, Performance, Performance Studies, Identity, ABQ Slams, Performance Poetry, Spoken Word, Slam Poetry

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Rodriguez, Ilia

First Committee Member (Chair)

Washington, Myra

Second Committee Member

Romero, Levi

Third Committee Member

Chavez, Karma