Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


Identities in Motion: An Autoethnography of an African American Woman's Journey to Burkina Faso, Benin, and Ghana

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

John Warren (Advisor)


This study examines African American identity within the context of Burkina Faso, Benin, and Ghana. Because African American identity has largely been studied in terms of racial identity within the United States, traveling outside the United States creates a different experience for African Americans and as such, their identity is influenced by the ideological constructions and narratives produced within other countries and communities. Through the theoretical lenses of postcolonial theory, I use autoethnography to demonstrate my own experiences with identity transformation as experienced in Burkina Faso, Benin, and Ghana. The study suggests that African American identity is best understood as identities in motion, adapting and changing in different environments and within various contexts. The study also furthers the discussion on African American identity by refusing to limit it to essentialist categories. Rather, this study shows the transformative nature of African American identity and follows the understanding that African American identity is fluid, multifaceted, and heterogeneous.