Border insurrections: How IndoHispano rhetorics revise dominant narratives of assimilation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Scott Richard Lyons


Graphic symbols, Ritual dance, IndoHispano, Rhetorics, Dominant narratives, Assimilation

Subject Categories

Chicana/o Studies | Indigenous Studies | Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority | Other Rhetoric and Composition


This dissertation advances Gloria Anzaldúa's mestiza consciousness as a rhetorical strategy for examining IndoHispano resistance to dominant narratives of assimilation and conversion. Through symbolic mediation and border crossing, IndoHispano rhetorics subvert and revise colonial narratives as seen in ceremonial dances, codices, and traditional rhetorical histories. By interpreting rhetorical practice in the realm of the material, of the corporeally generated, this dissertation analyzes across conventional semiotic and disciplinary borders between gestural and graphic signs. That is, ritual dance relies upon bodily gestures for support, as in theatrical performance, mimicry, sequence of steps, and choreography. Meanwhile, IndoHispano writing depends upon graphic marks for support, such as painting, drawing, inscribing letters, pictography, and typesetting. This methodological contribution involves crossing disciplinary borders to examine how IndoHispano gestural and graphic symbols are enacted within colonial structures of power. Ritual dance and writing are powerful rhetorical processes that metaphorically express, encode, and enact commentary about cultural relations in the borderlands, as well as about major forces that shape local IndoHispano history. Thus, this dissertation offers a long-overdue treatment of rhetorical practices along the Mexico/United States border and opens the way to new interpretations of contemporary IndoHispano cultures by considering their early historical formation in cross-cultural contexts.