Date of Award

8-1-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Speech Communication

First Advisor

Stucky, Nathan

Abstract

This dissertation examines my regional identity-in-context. First, I frame opening questions related to space, race, landscape, and identity, using the metaphor of walking. Secondly, I outline my notion of "mixed methods" for the study, which I call "a moving methodological mestizaje." Third, I weave personal narrative and poetry to I examine what it means to come to racial consciousness as a biracial, mixed-race person of color in the Midwest-South. Reflecting on the geographic and cultural features of Southern Illinois, I come to understand the region of the country as a "borderlands." Following Gloria Anzaldúa's writing, I identify myself as "a mestizo," or person of mixed race ancestry, but in the context of the Southern Illinois. The title poem of the dissertation expands on "mulatez" or African mestizaje to articulate an Afro-Latino political alliance. Fourth, I explore multiple space that I have lived across the country, to examine qualities of Whiteness to ultimately work against White identity. Then, I deploy the metaphor of drinking hot sauce as a reclaiming Mexican, Aztec mythopoetic. I come to name myself as "Merry Midwest Mestizo," to fully embrace my biracial, Latino, and White self and to find my identity-in-context. Finally, I offer a reclamation of my Mexican mother's life and death using Gloria Anzaldúa's notion of "autohistoria." I close with further ramifications of the study.

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