Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


School of Communication Studies


Jennifer PeeksMease

Carlos Aleman

Matthew Brigham


This thesis is both a personal and social inquiry of the experience of Black students at a predominantly white university. Within this inquiry, I extend Nakayama and Krizek's (1995) concept of whiteness as having "no true essence" to conceptualizations of blackness to assert that blackness is “a pattern of negotiation that takes place in conditions generated by specific discursive formations and social relations” (McLaren, 1999, pg. 40) rather than a fixed, essential category. Viewing blackness as encounter means that it is emergent through specific social and discursive conditions that are constantly constructed and negotiated through interactions with whiteness. I approach my project from a postmodern, poststructural, critical perspective that holds central questions of power, hegemony, and domination, as well as the discourse(s) that may play in the perpetuation of these power dynamics (Ono and Lacy, 2011). Thus, a Foucauldian analysis (per the lens of Holstein and Gubrium) is helpful in uncovering discursive practices around black (and white) individuals and bringing awareness of the discourses that dominate understandings within the university setting. More specifically, it provides a glimpse into the very different ways of understanding and explaining what is distinctive about the experience of Black students at a predominantly white institution. This method resonates with my own understandings of the way in which “we” as subjects construct our everyday realities in relation to our race and the various contexts and situations in which “we” are involved.

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