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Narrating Migrants and Cowboys: Language and Race in Southwest Kansas Local Government


This thesis is a linguistic analysis of identity as it emerges in narratives told by local government leaders in southwest Kansas. Some communities in southwest Kansas have shifted from a majority-Anglo population to a majority-Latinx population in the last thirty years, and yet, a majority of local government leaders and business owners here are Anglo community members. This thesis specifically investigates the ways in which City Commissioners, City Managers, and city staff in two cities maintain Anglo hegemonic power through narratives about race, migration, multiculturalism and identity in the communities. Narratives about migrant identity and cowboy identity are analyzed using the frameworks of racialization and the processes of distinction, illegitimation and authorization (Bucholtz and Hall 2004).

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