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Open Access

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Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

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Month Degree Awarded



performance, autoethnography, decolonizing, writing, ethnography, qualitative inquiry


I write performance autoethnography as a methodological project committed to evoking embodied and lived experience in academic texts, using performance writing to decolonize academic knowledge production. Through a fragmented itinerary across continents and ethnicities, across religions and languages, across academic and vocational careers, I speak from the everyday spaces in between supposedly stable cultural identities involving race, ethnicity, class, gendered norms, to name a few. I write against colonizing practices which police the racist, sexist, and xenophobic cultural politics that produce and validate particular identities. I write from the intersections of my own living experiences within and against those cultural practices, and I bring these intersections with me into the academic spaces where I live and labor, intertwining the personal and the professional. Within the academy, colonizing structures manifest in ways that value disembodied and objectified Western knowledges about people, while excluding certain bodies and lived experiences from research texts. My thesis locates the academy as both a site for struggle and an arena for transformative work, turning from Others as objects of study and toward decolonizing academic knowledge production, making Western epistemologies themselves the objects of inquiry (Smith 1999; Denzin 2003; Moreira 2009). Connecting with a tradition and community of scholars in the ‘seventh moment’ of qualitative research (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005b), I disrupt acts of academic(s) writing as the textual labor most privileged in the academy. In this thesis I write messy acts of embodied knowledges (Weems 2003; Moreira 2007), including this abstract itself, while each act resists and breaks forms of ‘traditional’ academic writing to varying degrees, ranging from subtle to overtly transgressive. My ‘fieldwork’ invokes my 35 years of perpetual migration: observed through my messy and unvalidated perspectives, recorded and transcribed through my messy and unreliable body, distorted by my messy and deceptive memories, and experienced every single day in messy encounters out of my control, while I live and labor as a perpetual betweener. I write visceral texts as performance acts that invite us all, as betweeners, to write and read from the flesh in order to turn our gaze toward decolonizing academic knowledge production.


First Advisor

Claudio Moreira