Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



My dissertation argues that cuir latinidad and practices of decolonization are acts of relationality. Rather than conceptualizing cuir latinidad as a fixed location or identity, I theorize it as an orientation to borders that is always arriving and symbolically performed. Throughout this dissertation, I identify communicative strategies that gesture toward physical and conceptual borders of cuir latinidad and its possibilities. From the framework of conceptual borders that meander through our bodies and perforate within our lives and experiences, I turn to autoethnography to defy and subvert norms and center embodied knowledges of cuir latinidad. This dissertation turns to a decolonization methodology with Chicana, Latina, and decolonial feminisms to depict an approach towards Jose Esteban Muñoz’s Feeling Brown, Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands and mestiza consciousness, Chela Sandoval’s theory of the flesh, Bernandette Calafell’s performative rhetoric, Gust A. Yep’s cuir relationality as a heuristic.

In this dissertation, I trace the emergence and textures of performances of cuir latinidad as theories in the flesh, cuir relationality, and expanding within the borderlands. I define cuir latinidad as a decolonial cuirness: it is both a way of looking at the latinidad (a heuristic for reading the latinidad and performances within it as cuir) and a descriptor of the embodied felt experience of being cuir in and through latinidad. The praxis of cuir decoloniality[1] is an undoing and a becoming, a resisting and defying of coloniality and its myriad impositions on to the flesh. To explore cuir latinidad as such a performative and critical heuristic, I engage with, analyze, and embody three performances that embody cuir latinidad. First, Chicana Lesbian photographer Laura Aguilar (1988-2007) uses her “photo-text” images to communicate Latinx/ Chicana lesbian identities and landscapes of the geopolitical Mexican-United States border. Aguilar cultivates a conversation between the subject, setting/environment, and the spectator to instigate reflective analytics. Second, cuir intimacy is explored within “Por el amor de G: Undoing” where I blend autoethnographic and critical fabulation to create a speculative fiction about an interracial same-sex partnership confronts identity and visibility as a means of survival amidst de/coloniality through intimacy established within cuir relationality. Lastly, the performances of Xandra Ibarra, sometimes known as La Chica Boom, hyperbolize colonization and racialization to gauge the resistance of boundaries and borders using her own body’s depiction of racialization. I investigate cuiring latinidad as a decolonial strategy within my analysis in this dissertation and with Ibarra’s work my instigation dives further into mexicanidad and her deconstruction of Mexican stereotypes.

[1] Cuir decoloniality is used throughout engaging against settler colonial roots intact within the languages that weave in and out, the transgressions and migrations of the subjects with the method of cuiring to confront them. “To decolonize is to extricate ourselves from the logic of coloniality and its effects, and to detach ourselves from the apparatus that confers prestige and meaning to Europe” (Gomes Pereira 2019, p. 407).



Committee Chair

Mack, Ashley N.


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