A Mexican American's Passage: An Autoethnographic Exploration of Identity and Self-Empowerment

Corina Lerma, University of Texas at El Paso


This thesis presents a critical autoethnography that explores how an understanding of political and cultural events have contributed to my conflicted sense of identity. The purpose of the study was to identify genealogical and historical patterns that manifest in the traumas that have influenced and problematized the construction of my reality and to discover if personal traumas and conflicted senses of identity as a Mexican American in the United States finds any source in the social and political events that took place during the Mexican Repatriation of the 1930s. The autoethnography was conducted both through research of Mexican American history, specifically the Mexican Repatriation of the 1930s, and an exploration into how the politics and rhetorics of the nation combined with the history of my family culminate in shaping my past, present and future. The thesis provides a literature review delineating different perspectives regarding the Mexican Repatriation and offers a positionality in which rhetoric is ontological. My understanding of these theories come from my readings of, primarily, Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel Foucault, and Helen Foster. This ontological position, for example, expands the view of language as more than an instrument, since language/discourse is unique with each use, truths and knowledge are partial, situated, and contingent, and reality is a construct that is only an interpretation where agency is negotiated.^

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Lerma, Corina, "A Mexican American's Passage: An Autoethnographic Exploration of Identity and Self-Empowerment" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10823713.