Identity Borderlands: What Opportunities Can They Offer Us?
MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations
My Capstone work grew out of my experience working with an academic program on the US/Mexico border. I had the opportunity to cross that border many times with students. One thing that emerged from these crossings was a desire to explore the nature of other borders in our lives. These explorations led me to this study of "identity borders," which I define as a situation where two, or more, oppositional or different identities come together in one person. This project examined four different types of identity borders using them as looking glasses into the borderlands. The research methodology was qualitative using twelve in-depth interviews with individuals who identified as one of the following: bi/multi-cultural, bi/multi-racial, bisexual or transgendered. Through thematic coding and interpretation of the interview data, I attempted to answer the question: "How are individuals impacted by the experience of living on an identity border?" I found that those individuals living in the borderlands face the reality of shifting boundaries while also being offered the uncommon opportunity to actively define their own identity. Though "identity pioneers" often face tension and isolation as a part of their journey, they also find creative possibilities for support as well as connection that defy categories and definitions. The experience of "a border" also seemed to encourage individuals to activism related to their identities through education, performance and engaged support. Overall, this work found "the border" to be a painful and challenging place yet one that also offers enormous opportunity for redefinition and change.
McDonnell, Laurie, "Identity Borderlands: What Opportunities Can They Offer Us?" (2003). Capstone Collection. 2103.