Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC San Diego

Re-thinking the immigrant narrative in a global perspective : representations of labor, gender and im/migration in contemporary cultural productions


This dissertation project comes out of an interest in labor and gender and the ways in which laboring bodies, specifically those of female domestic workers, are represented in cultural productions. One of the most popular means of portraying immigrant workers is through the employment of the hegemonic immigrant story, an anachronistic narrative that continues to be perpetuated both in cultural productions and in the general debate about immigration. The hegemonic immigrant narrative is based on a storyline of progress that redeploys the constructed binary between the country of origin and the host country. The introduction argues for a different way of reading immigrant narratives that deconstructs such a binary in order to situate the new immigrant narrative as occurring under a world-system, in which the movement of people across constructed national boundaries is no longer situated between spatially and temporally differentiated areas, but instead is seen as taking place within a global system--one based on various economic and political relationships. The cultural productions in the dissertation provide varying representations of immigration and domestic labor and include works of literature and film. The first chapter looks at the ways in which the hegemonic immigrant narrative has been employed by two canonical Chicano texts and two contemporary films in order to trace the perpetuation of the myth of upward mobility and assimilation. Chapter two provides an analysis of alternative narratives written by Latina writers that challenge the ideological containment of the traditional story of migration. The third chapter continues to focus on representations of domestic labor, but also includes the labor performed in the public sphere of the hotel industry. Ultimately, this dissertation is interested in looking at the ways in which cultural productions are using representations of labor and immigration to alter the narrative of immigration that continues to perpetuate ideas of success and assimilation. Cultural productions about marginalized immigrant communities whose immigrant experiences are not necessarily stories of progress serve to disarticulate the dominant immigrant narrative and ensure the visibility of immigrant patterns that have influenced the formation of the U.S. as a heterogeneous nation

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View