The Political Cultures of American Study Abroad Initiatives in Latin America and Spain
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 07/11/2020
AbstractThe production and representation of study abroad in Latin America is examined through the following theoretical framework: consumer culture, visual studies, media convergence, film analysis and critical discourse analysis. The second chapter is an analysis of the representations of Latin America and Spain in modern study abroad marketing collateral. These materials range from paper pamphlets and brochures to online content on the various websites of different for-profit and not-for-profit study abroad agencies, as well as different universities. They are representative of three randomly selected for-profit study abroad agencies, and one randomly selected not-for-profit study abroad agency. For the universities, 6 different universities have been randomly selected and includes two small liberal arts colleges, two large research universities, 2 community colleges, and two historically Hispanic-serving institutions. This sample provides the most accurate data that surveys the largest possible variety of study abroad agencies in the field. The third chapter analyzes a variety of travel blogs written by study abroad students and instructors and directors of study abroad programs in Latin America. These blogs are selected based on a narrow criteria: they are written by students, instructors, or directors of study abroad programs in Latin America; are written during the author’s time in Latin America; the total number of blogs selected represent at least three different countries in Latin America. This chapter also evaluates the social media posts on Facebook and Twitter of students studying abroad in Latin America using Henry Jenkins’ theories on convergence culture and participatory culture. Often study abroad students will create a Facebook group in order to connect with other students studying in the area or on the same program. This chapter aids in linking the discourse analysis of the previous chapter together to provide a more holistic picture of how Latin America is portrayed in US study abroad discourse through its use of theories from Henry Jenkins, Edward Said and Mary Louise Pratt, among others. Specifically, this chapter is interested in exploring how students talk about these regions when writing for different types of audiences, for example: Facebook versus a personal blog directed towards family. The ways in which Latin America is represented and discussed on these different media platforms provides a certain insight as to whether or not study abroad programs are successfully creating global citizens or simply perpetuating stereotypes. The fourth and final chapter of this dissertation focuses on how study abroad is represented in young adult literature. Each book portrays a teenage girl going off and studying abroad for a year in a different country, from Spain to Mexico. This final chapter seeks to glean how the representations of study abroad programs in their marketing materials and social media responses by students influence the representation of the culture of study abroad in these cultural manifestations. The use of Michel Foucault’s definition of discourse, as well as Fredric Jameson’s description of postmodernism, and Antonio Gramsci’s hegemony, will all aid in the understanding of how the culture of study abroad manifests itself within cinema and literature. This dissertation questions the representations of Latin America in study abroad discourse and how these visual and textual narratives are eventually represented in cinema and literature. Each chapter argues that a hegemonic form of discourse has shaped the nature and role of U.S. study abroad in Latin America, as well as, in cinema and literature. The chapters also point directly or indirectly at the role of policies and approaches from the top down in study abroad rhetoric, including the importance of global citizenship in program mission statements, the manner that students and program administrators discuss their experiences while studying abroad on social media and blogs, and how study abroad is represented in cultural manifestations from cinema to literature. The interdisciplinary approach and triangulation of these topics expose a consistent history of hegemonic tropicalization and orientalism of study abroad destinations and calls into question the marketing techniques utilized by U.S. organizations to promote and sell their vision of study abroad. It is important to study the history of this rhetoric so that we may bring attention to it and, at some point, integrate alternative visions and narratives into its fold.
Degree ProgramGraduate College