Date of Award

5-2007

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Kristin M. Langellier

Second Committee Member

Nathan E. Stormer

Third Committee Member

Mazie Hough

Abstract

The movement of people throughout the world has lead to increased study about the lives of immigrants and migrants living away from home. This research explores the meanings of home and cultural belonging for Patricia, a visiting student and sojourner from Zimbabwe, currently working on her doctorate in Maine. Interweaving the work of feminist theory, narrative studies, and communication, I engage with the meanings and experiences of home and belonging as relational and negotiated performances for those who are moving across physical and cultural borders. Chapter One describes various literatures that intersect in productive ways to conceptualize home, belonging, and identity as spatially and temporally communicated through storytelling of everyday experiences. A narrative approach is enacted through conversation and storytelling, co-performed by Patricia and me across the four interviews. Chapter Two explicates narrative as a method of analysis and outlines performance and positioning techniques that create stories and structure storytelling. Understanding storytelling through a performative lens provides a space for an embodied communication to be created and recreated across time and space within cultural discourses and colonial histories. Specific and significant storytelling moments are interpreted in Chapters Three, Four and Five within the three larger organizing narratives about family and friends, racial histories and differences, and the larger mission for the narrator to locate home and return home to Zimbabwe after receiving a United States education. Through my participation as the interviews occurred, repeatedly listening to the audio recordings and reviewing notes, completing rough transcriptions of each interview, and mapping out the stories and conversations of each interview, I identified narrative units and that were analyzed in each chapter. Close transcriptions capture these storytelling performances. Each story is analyzed on its own terms and as linked stories that emerge through a personal, social, and political process for Patricia, an ongoing and unfolding be-coming of who she is of be longing - being and creating home while also longing for a space to call home. Meanings of home and belonging are constantly being negotiated and positioned as Patricia narrates lived experiences in Zimbabwe, Michigan and Maine. The purpose of this research is not to find or locate home, but rather to understand the complexities of lived experiences for the narrator. Her storytelling reveals home and belonging as powerful spaces of struggle and resistance through personal, social and cultural interactions with people and places. These spaces are always political and tied to colonial histories.

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