Date of Award

December 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Steve Parks


Immigration, Service Learning, Social Justice

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


In my dissertation, The Post-Neoliberal Citizen: Immigrant Identity as the New Service Learning Center, I analyze the language of service-learning initiatives, particularly the language these initiatives use regarding global citizenship, through the lens of the rhetorics of neoliberalism. Much of service-learning scholarship has, I argue, taken for granted the idea of citizenship; that is, the political subjectivity of participants in these programs has been articulated from the perspective of American citizenship. I begin the dissertation by tracing the early conversations about citizenship within service-learning scholarship, and I then note how these conversations shift when second-wave service-learning scholars reframed service-learning to engage directly with neoliberal logic.

I then analyze the rhetoric of two organizations: Santa Clara University and Justice for Immigrants. I argue that while the rhetoric of the service initiatives at SCU are often framed with language of social justice and global citizenship, the programs themselves are informed by the rhetorics of neoliberalism. They are, in other words, not providing students with an alternative to neoliberal political subjectivity. The rhetoric of Justice for Immigrants, on the other hand, provides a different, more global, understanding of how neoliberal logic has rapidly changed the idea of global citizenship. I analyze the archives of a JFI project to understand ways that immigrants articulate their experiences of being global citizens. Drawing on the rhetoric of these two organizations, the differences between how these groups experience citizenship, I argue that reframing our service learning initiatives around the identity of the immigrant provides universities with more meaningful ways to understand social injustices created by neoliberal policies, and more importantly, help students begin to envision a post-neoliberal political subjectivity.


Open Access