Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

English Rhetoric and Composition, PhD

Committee Chair

Horner, Bruce

Committee Member

Sheridan, Mary P.

Committee Member

Griffin, Susan M.

Committee Member

Canagarajah, A. Suresh

Author's Keywords

multilingualism; academic writing; undocumented youths; bilingualism; translanguaging; raciolinguistics


This qualitative research and community-based engagement focuses on the critical examination of the texts that 12 U.S. Southern and New York City undocumented young adults have produced in relation to immigrant rights advocacy. Adapting Lillis and Curry’s 2010 text-oriented ethnography methods and drawing on a collective framework informed by García and Wei’s (2014) theorization of dynamic bilingual practices, translingual theories of language difference in academic writing (Horner et. al, 2011; Lu & Horner, 2016), and Flores’s and Rosa’s (2015) call for raciolinguistics as a way to interrogate academic writing, this study examines the bilingual stances that these immigrant activists bring to their language and literacy practices, and their production of these texts. The study centers on the perspectives and lived experiences of racialized bilinguals to build on scholarship looking to the writing practices of students broadly characterized as local multilinguals (Canagarajah, 2010; Flores, Kleyn, & Menken, 2015); I argue that the dynamic and embodied language and writing practices of undocumented immigrant activists challenge monolingual assumptions about linguistic legitimacy and citizenship and should be examined in the contexts of their undocumented and immigrant lived experiences. This research offers insight on how minoritized and racialized young adults can—and do—develop their bilingual potential with and through their scholarly and professional experiences as well as their political activism. In doing this, I propose “conciencia bilingüe” as a working term for understanding the dynamic and ongoing self-reflective language practices of racialized bilinguals. These practices include rhetorical selections of linguistic and cultural features to signal difference in writing, translocal movements between languages and modalities to produce distinctively bilingual texts, and dissociating language from nationhood and belonging.