Semester of Graduation

Spring 2019


Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



This thesis explores elite and grassroots discourse concerning disputes over monument removal in New Orleans, Louisiana. By means of participant observation, narrative ethnography, and critical discourse analysis, I ground this study of political and academic arguments about Confederate monuments in the context of grassroots concerns regarding white supremacist symbols to inquire about how these divergent discourses relate to inequality in New Orleans. Ultimately, I argue that what is most at stake in each case studied here is speakers’ control over the “public mind” via their control over dominant narratives (van Dijk 1993a, 44-45). In order to preserve their power, each of these actors performed a range of discursive strategies and took stances on the monument debate, thereby allowing their audiences to consume their messages and align with them. Lastly, I show that, given their unequal access to political, economic, and symbolic resources, elites in this study were capable of enacting change in their local area in ways that grassroots organizers not because they lacked the same resources.

Committee Chair

Brody, Mary J.