Communication ETDs


Nina Cooper

Publication Date



While digital ethnography is a growing genre in communication, there is a salient need to fill the gaps of knowledge concerning health communication using a digital format. Digital ethnography holds the potential of reaching larger audiences, incorporating more stakeholders, and adding previously muted voices – individuals from non-academic communities as well as communities of color – to health research dialectics. With limited use of this tool in the field of health communication, there remain untapped opportunities for intra-disciplinary work within the communication field (e.g., ethnography, performance ethnography, critical ethnography) and beyond. By combining ethnography and community-based participatory research as theoretical frameworks and digital ethnography as an approach, seminal opportunities may be discovered in understanding the role of environmental discourse in human behavior, promoting higher levels of community participation, engaging those who are most greatly impacted by environmental issues, and fostering positive social change. The purpose of this study is three-fold: (1) to document on-going efforts of Mountain View community leaders and residents to survive, cope with, and remediate environmental damage resulting from the hazard waste siting in their area of 33 out of 35 EPA sites; (2) to explore lives, unique culture, and continuing activism of Mountain View residents, as they seek to construct a reality that transcends their being targeted as a dumping ground for environmental pollutants; and (3) to encourage social action by offering ways in which people can not only procure knowledge and empowerment regarding environmental threats, but also pursue practical responses to alleviate them. The Mountain View neighborhood has long battled against environmental injustice. While the EPA Office of Justice (2015) suggests that no group of people should bear disproportionate shares of environmental threats and promotes environmental justice through the fair treatment and meaning involvement of all people groups, Mountain View is one New Mexican community where residents continue to experience unequal protection against environmental hazards. This Cumulative Impact Project focuses upon on the 35-year period of Mountain View history beginning in the early 1980’s when community organizing efforts became increasingly galvanized. When a community infant was poisoned and hospitalized with “blue baby syndrome,” a medical condition that causes an infant’s hands, feet, nails, and skin to become bluish as a result of the blood’s reduced ability to carry oxygen, community residents were in an uproar over the threat of potential suffocation of the area’s most vulnerable citizens.




digital ethnography, environmental activism, CRT, CBPR, PAR, health communication, health and culture

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Judith White

First Committee Member (Chair)

Magdalena Avila

Second Committee Member

Jaelyn DeMaria

Included in

Communication Commons