Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Lisa A. Flores

Second Advisor

John A. Ackerman

Third Advisor

Bryan C. Taylor

Fourth Advisor

Marlia E. Banning

Fifth Advisor

Emma Pérez

Abstract

This critical rhetorical critique interrogates rhetorics of memory in negotiations of national identity, especially as they address race and colonialism. We need to rethink race in more complex ways that disrupt homogenous conceptions of who belongs in the U.S., instead embracing the possibilities offered in those liminal spaces of racial national identities, such as (Native)American. Doing so requires acknowledging the reverberations of past rhetorics in contemporary sense-making and how those echoes vary across communities. In exploring how we (mis)remember race and colonization in relation to nation, my concern lies in exposing some of the persistent rhetorical strategies that impede social justice efforts by marginalized communities, as well as the resistive rhetorics these communities respond with.

Pursuing this project, I rely on investigating rhetorical mnemonic strategies of race, nation, and colonialism in everyday discourses about the relationship(s) between a Euro-American community in Lawrence, Kansas and a pan-Indian community associated with Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) to reveal how we negotiate national identities in relation to the past and to one another. At its core, this ideological critique of rhetorics of race, nation, memory and colonialism is an investigation of identity negotiation among two representative communities in disparate positions of power, their places constituted across several centuries of racist discourses that we too-often continue to rely on. In examining historic Assimilation Era discourses from Haskell Indian Boarding School as well as recent discourses produced by the Lawrence, Kansas, and HINU communities about a local land controversy, I interrogate the role of memory in contemporary negotiations of identity and reveal ways the normative assumptions of U.S. citizenship are profoundly raced. I also propose the idea of “enabling uncertainty” as a perspective that explicitly troubles narrow and limiting conceptions of racial identities, highlighting the idea through discussion of the complex ways (Native)Americans navigate the interstices between Native and American identities.