Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Human Communications

First Advisor

Bernadette M. Calafell, Ph.D.


Containment, Decoloniality, Memory, Performance, Puerto Rico


My dissertation makes an argument for a decolonial move in rhetorical memory studies to more ethically account for the ways in which colonized women in the Global South, like Puerto Rican poet and revolutionary Julia de Burgos, have resisted the trauma colonization has systemically wrought against gendered, raced, and classed bodies. Building from a decolonization methodology, and theoretically situating my argument in Chicana, Latina, and decolonial feminisms, I argue Burgos's poetry both bears faithful witness to the violence of US imperial rule and articulates the dangers of a Puerto Rican nationalist movement built on a Spanish colonial foundation. Approaching Burgos as a woman negotiating her history and present from a third space identity, I contend memory studies must move away from an emphasis of state-sponsored narratives and embrace decolonial notions of commemoration, such as performance. Performative commemoration both allows for lived, collective experience and resists the tendency of the state to coopt memory in the interest of neoliberal diversity.

My dissertation is organized in six chapters. Within the introduction, I outline my project and introduce my methodological and theoretical commitments. Chapter Two provides historical context for the ways in which Spanish colonialism and US imperialism have worked to systemically marginalize, sexualize, and erase Puerto Rican women along the lines of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Using extratextual analysis, Chapter Three explores how colonization is upheld through public memory projects/state narratives of middlebrow multiculturalism as I examine the USPS-issued Julia de Burgos stamp. In Chapter Four, I examine how Burgos herself resisted coloniality in the through her use of an autoethnographic persona in her poetry. I build a case to argue the ways in which Burgos negotiates memory and constructs a decolonial imaginary provides a path for those who will later seek to commemorate her legacy outside of the scope of the state. Chapter Five, then, examines how this negotiation persists in the Carmen Rivera play Julia de Burgos: Child of Water. I argue that Rivera's play, in witnessing through performance, provides an example of decolonial collective memory. My dissertation concludes with a call for beginning memory scholarship from within a differential consciousness.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Sara Baugh

File size

216 p.

File format





Rhetoric, Hispanic American studies, Latin American literature

Available for download on Sunday, August 01, 2021