Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Toward More Intersectional, Coalitional Rhetoric: Working at the Intersections of Indigenous, Racial Justice, and Environmental Activism Public Deposited

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  • My thesis consists of two articles that address the ways in which rhetoric emerges from coalitions with unequal power dynamics within the environmental movement. The introduction provides context to help situate my articles within the current environmental movement. In my first article, “Constellating a More Intersectional, Coalitional Rhetoric: Lessons from Standing Rock,” I advocate for approaching coalitions and their rhetoric through the lens of constellations in order to create more intersectional, coalitional rhetoric. In this paper, I expand upon Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s (Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg) concept of constellations and apply it to coalitional statements created at the peak of the protests at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016. Ultimately, I argue that a constellative approach to coalitions and their rhetoric can allow for more intersectional and coalitional rhetoric to emerge. We will know when coalitions have approached their work in a constellative way when we observe their rhetoric centering the voices of frontline communities and Indigenous people. While my first article advocates for a theoretical approach to coalitional rhetoric, my second article, “Frontline Leadership, Privileged Capacity: Understanding the Rhetoric of the Portland Clean Energy Fund,” continues the thread of analyzing coalitional rhetoric by examining the messaging of the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) through seven interviews conducted over the span of twelve months with six different activists in the Portland environmental movement. In this article, I explore how the guiding principle of the PCEF coalition, “frontline leadership, privileged capacity,” led not only to more inclusive and intersectional organizing, but also inclusive and intersectional rhetoric. Together, these articles provide both a theoretical framework and case study analysis of how coalitions composed of power asymmetries within the environmental movement can become more intersectional and inclusive in practice and create more intersectional and inclusive rhetoric.
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