Quilting the Migrant Trail: Rhetorical Text(iles) and Rehumanizing Narratives
AuthorArellano, Sonia Christine
AdvisorLicona, Adela C.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation examines material cultural productions as meaning-making practices that memorialize migrant lives within a context that creates and sustains the conditions for migrant deaths. I explore the Migrant Quilt Project to understand the rhetorical force and function of memorializing quilts in neoliberal contexts where migrant lives are devalued and migrant deaths appear insignificant. Since the US Border Patrol first implemented the tactic of Prevention Through Deterrence, migrant deaths have increased, totaling almost 3,000 migrant deaths in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona since 2000. As a response, activist quilters with The Migrant Quilt Project carefully craft quilts from clothing left behind by migrants crossing the desert. Each quilt documents migrant deaths from a specific year, as recorded by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, and includes the name of each migrant or "unknown" or "desconocido" for unidentified migrants that died that year. The quilts memorialize and humanize migrants to bring awareness to migrant deaths in the Southern Arizona community. I examine the quilts of the migrant quilt project and incorporate insights from interviews with quilters. This analysis reveals that the quilters carefully compose their quilts and employ particular rhetorical strategies to accomplish three goals: to humanize migrant lives through (counter) narrative, to memorialize migrant lives to resist erasure, and to raise awareness of what the quilters term the "reality" human migration. I argue that these three goals ultimately function to challenge dominant narratives of migrants and teach viewers about the ill effects of immigration policy. To theorize quilting as a method, this dissertation also focuses on my experience creating a quilt for the Migrant Quilt Project and explores the value of composing text(iles) as contributing to scholarly inquiry. Quilting as a method challenges traditional concepts of research and rigor to expand those concepts, which allows my particular project the opportunity to consider myself implicit in the plight of migrants. Quilting as method also facilitates a dialectical research process, which promotes an always changing perspective and research trajectory. This dialectical process expands understanding of the migrant experience and facilitates a thoughtful awareness when composing data representation. I argue that quilting as a feminist qualitative research method facilitates a nuanced understanding of the research questions about migrants and migrant representation. Ultimately this dissertation considers the productive possibilities of studying text(iles) and also of making text(iles). In completing this research, I argue that studying and composing quilts promotes tactile research methods to value various literacies and qualitative data representation. This research also provides pedagogical tools for rhetoric and composition scholars to value various ways of knowing and to study overlooked histories in their classrooms. Lastly, this research provides the possibilities for people to learn about the experiences of migration and the ill effects of immigration policies on fellow humans.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Rhetoric, Composition & the Teaching of English