Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Tale of Two Triangles: Ethnolinguistic Identity Among Gulf South Creoles
by Wendte, Nathan A., Ph.D., Tulane University, Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, 2020, 398; 27737160
Abstract (Summary)

Despite the work of dozens of dedicated scholars spanning decades, we seem no closer to a clear-cut answer as to who and what are signified by the signifier Creole in the Gulf South. And yet a perduring infatuation with this ever-enigmatic term continues to tempt scholars and laymen alike to try their hand at the Sisyphean task. It is hard to believe that such a vague label could possibly serve as a vehicle for ethnolinguistic identity, and yet that is precisely how Creole functions in Louisiana and beyond.

This dissertation employs nexus analysis (Scollon and Scollon 2004) to explore the variable uses of Creole as a tool for delimiting ethnolinguistic boundaries in Texas and Louisiana. These boundaries can subsequently be interpreted as the basis for contemporary Creole identity in the Gulf South. The results bear on issues relating to cultural authenticity, linguistic legitimacy, and racial subjectivity. They also have implications for theories of migration, acculturation, and translocality. My data are drawn from interviews with a sample of Texas-resident (n=32) and Louisiana-resident (n=28) participants who self-identify as Creole-speaking Creoles. The main goal of the interviews was to give participants the space to define what Creole meant to them as a label for people and as a label for language. Based on these data, I was able to map the general and idiosyncratic characteristics associated with Creole in each place and make comparisons between the sub-samples.

Creole ethnolinguistic identity, while internally diverse within the two sub-samples, displays very little variation between the sub-samples. These results indicate a certain, loose ideological coherence among Gulf South Creoles regarding delimitation via the label Creole. Creole ought to be considered a handy tool in an ethnolinguistic identity repertoire (cf. Benor 2010) whose contents include both linguistic and cultural traits. Such a reconceptualization may increase Creole access to voice in the region. The weight of translocal flows of people, products, and ideas that can be identified as Creole are heavily skewed towards originating in Louisiana. While Creole remains primarily associated with Louisiana, there are faint traces of Texas influence within and across the sub-samples.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dajko, Nathalie
Commitee: Maxwell, Judith, Spitzer, Nicholas, Klingler, Thomas
School: Tulane University, Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 82/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Linguistics, Ethnic studies
Keywords: Louisiana, Nexus analysis, Texas, Ethnolinguistic identity, Creole
Publication Number: 27737160
ISBN: 9798678119612
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