Title page for ETD etd-11302009-112903

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Okeson, Natalie Whittemore
URN etd-11302009-112903
Title Exploring the American Anti-Immigration Discourse in Scholarship, Politics, and Activism through Michel Foucault and Edward Said
Degree Master of Arts
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Timothy W. Luke Committee Chair
Georgeta V. Pourchot Committee Member
Scott C. Nelson Committee Member
  • Discourse
  • Immigration
  • Said
  • Foucault
Date of Defense 2009-11-16
Availability unrestricted
Using Michel Foucault and Edward Said’s theoretical contributions regarding discursive formations, this thesis performs a critical discourse analysis of the anti-immigration discourse in America; a flawed rhetoric that uses the power of language to create is own truth. The ultimate research question of this thesis asks what can be learned about the discursive formations of the anti-immigration rhetoric from Foucault and Said’s contributions.

To begin, varying aspects of discourse are discussed, such as non-critical and critical discourse analysis. The concept of discourse, as will be used in this thesis, is heavily indebted to the scholarly work of Michel Foucault. As such, a review of Foucault’s contributions showing how discourse allows some to gain power over others and then to create a self-sustaining truth will be used as a base from which all argument shall be built. Next, this thesis explores Said’s discourse theory, which extends Foucault’s concept of discourse to claim that those in power often assert a knowledge of others that is not accurate, but serves the purpose of maintaining a dominating status over them. This is followed by a critical discourse analysis of texts produced by key authors in the American anti-immigration discourse such as Samuel Huntington, Tom Tancredo, and Pat Buchanan in order to provide insight into their anti-immigration rhetoric. In conclusion, by unpacking the anti-immigration discourse, the reader will discover a discursive method that clearly parallels that which is so heavily critiqued by Foucault and Said, namely the construction of knowledge through inaccurate and flawed discourses.

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