Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Steve Parks


counterstory, decolonial, literacies, mobilities, storytelling

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


This dissertation considers the potential for decolonial possibilities for and democratic participation of students in three rhetorical and institutional spaces: the writing center, the classroom, and the archives. The Lower Río Grande Valley, the site of the study, is located at the Southernmost end of Texas, and is situated between the almost 2,000-mile-long geopolitical border spanning from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California and the internal checkpoints that run parallel to and 70 miles north of the border. The Lower Río Grande Valley has remained a Mexican American cultural province and zone despite six phases of colonization. Little is known of Mexican American uses and practices of literacy, rhetoric, and identity in the discipline of Rhetoric and Composition. This is even more apparent in regards to Mexican Americans of the Lower Río Grande Valley. On one level, this dissertation focuses on the historical and current state of colonization in the Lower Río Grande Valley. On another level, this dissertation is interested in the presentation and representation of culture through place making, meaning-making practices, and knowledge production. Part historiographical and archival, part ethnographic and decolonial, this rhetorical project brings into focus a region and student demographic that has remained on the cusp of invisibility in society, the academy, and the discipline of rhetoric and composition. The contribution of this research includes developing spatial and temporal awareness, increasing attention to local and regional cultural differences, and articulating decolonial possibilities.


Open Access