Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



This study examines the use of ethnic and racial labels as they are used in the construction of social identity among Italian Americans in Bossier City, Louisiana. In particular, the researcher is interested in how racial and ethnic identities are constructed through linguistic features, such as labels, and how these labels can often reflect the beliefs, values, or ideologies that influence the speaker. By examining which labels are used and how, it is possible to better understand what it means for each participant to be an Italian American today. The researcher relies heavily on Foucault’s notion of knowledge/power and the “discursive regimes” that are used as a mechanism for defining social identities in order to provide context for each label. Race and ethnicity are both rigid and fluid at the same time, affording some the ability to move across these boundaries. Italians in Louisiana, a majority of which immigrated from Sicily, have historically been viewed as non-white, despite their adoption of a white identity today. For this reason, they present a unique case for scholars attempting to understand racial and ethnic affiliation. Yet, few have studied self-identity regarding this often-overlooked north Louisiana community and fewer still have used the linguistic anthropological methods of ethnography and discourse analysis. This study attempts to fill in this gap in the literature. By utilizing linguistic anthropology and the social theories of Foucault, this study provides a unique interdisciplinary insight that contributes to the much-needed research on the Italian American community of north Louisiana. 



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Managan, Kathe