Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Lisa A. Flores

Second Advisor

John P. Jackson

Third Advisor

John M. Ackerman

Abstract

In this master's thesis I situate President Barack Obama's 2011 speech on comprehensive immigration reform as representative of a larger body of immigration reform rhetoric and driving force behind current efforts to pass new legislation. I argue that the President's rhetoric served to conceal a commitment to protect the economic interests of hegemonic whiteness that dominate in contemporary U.S. American society. In the different chapters of this thesis I interrogate rhetorical strategies that served to silence questions of racial segregation, racisms, and even race altogether. I examine and challenge President Obama's ideological subscription to neoliberal principles and the language of late-capitalism that tend to portray immigrants as either economic commodities or threats. Despite a seemingly race-neutral language, President Obama defined the limits of national belonging as products of a public ideology dominated by whiteness, neoliberal politics, and enchantment with protecting national sovereignty and borders.

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