Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


Culturing on the Borderlands—A Critical Ethnography on Taiwanese and Chinese Transnational Practices

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Alberto González (Advisor)


The U.S.-Mexico border has long been a site for cultural intermix and struggles as the global territories become more connected for capital flows. Such a space has drawn researchers from various disciplines to understand the impacts of the high as well as unequal volume of traveling. This ethnography critically examines the everyday communicative activities enacted and cultural identities (per)formed by a group of Taiwanese and Chinese transnationalists who arrived to the borderlands of El Paso and Juárez in the beginning of the 21st century. Rather than viewing culture as static, this research approaches it as an active creature which changes and grows through communication—traveling and dwelling on the border. This dissertation narrates daily interactions where space such as El Paso is (re)constructed during communicative events in relations to places of Taiwan, China, Mexico, and the United States. Moreover, these relationships are ordered hierarchically, thus places are fixed in to ranked spaces. This spatial hierarchy then serves as the logic determining which communicative activities are to be engaged in on the El Paso/ Juárez border. Drawing mainly from S. Hall, H. Bhabha, and G. Anzaldúa, cultural identities are understood as processes of hybridizations. In the midst of traveling and dwelling in between borders, my transnational friends (re)invent and (per)form various cultural activities such as Baptist rituals, festival celebrations, and language learning. Cultural identities are strategically (dis)articulated through everyday activities. Cultural values such as Confucianism and Christianity are selectively hybridized for more mobility.