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Date of Award


Access Type

Campus Access

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Donal A. Carbaugh

Second Advisor

Benjamin H. Bailey

Third Advisor

Richard T. Chu

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | Communication | Religion


This dissertation examines the communication of identity in a Chinese Indonesian Reformed Evangelical Christian (CIREC) religious community in Boston, Massachusetts. Members of this community are English-dominant, Indonesian-born, racially and/or ethnically Chinese , and fundamentalist Christians. They have had to face and negotiate issues of identity that do not fit neatly into pre-existing social categories of race, ethnicity, religion and nationality, all of which are geographically-bound and determined by ruling powers of nation-states. Not tethered to specific geo-political locations and those locations' accompanying identity categories, it is solely through communication and daily social performance of `who they are' that members of this community create and negotiate their identity. Being a CIREC requires one to form one's identity around the act of evangelizing. In this community, evangelizing is practiced by engaging in (among other practices) a unique form of prayer referred to as `prayer of the faithful', distributing generic Christian pamphlets in Boston Common, the city's main public park, and discussing effective evangelizing strategies, without necessarily putting them into action. Engaging in these communication practices provides members with a sense of identity and belonging, a sense they never had due to the marginalized position of Chinese in an Indonesian socio-cultural context . Data used for this dissertation were drawn from twenty-one months of participation in prayer meetings, Bible study, Sunday service and social events outside of church settings. Using cultural discourse analysis as the main analytical framework (Berry, 2009; Carbaugh, 1996a, b, 2005, 2007, 2007a; Carbaugh, Gibson, and Milburn, 1997; Scollo, 2010), I explicated the daily social performance of the CIREC multicultural and international identity. This work seeks to contribute to scholarship on cultural communication, religious communication, Chinese diaspora identity studies, and suggests a comparison with practices of a mainstream fundamentalist evangelical Christian community in the United States. The focus on daily communicative enactments of identity in social settings also serves to bridge the gap between macro-level issues of ethnicity, race, and religion in an Indonesian and U.S socio-cultural context, and micro-level analyses of how a multicultural identity is enacted on a daily basis.