Language Minorities and Disasters: The Ecological Literacies of Transnational-Multilingual Migrants
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This dissertation explores the literate lives of transnational migrants in the US in the aftermath of an environmental disaster. While many scholars have examined the mobility of people, resources, and literate activities across borders, I propose that the ecological literacies of transnational migrants in local places and environmental disruptions should be further studied. By using the scalar analysis of data from four case studies and transcontextual analysis of participants’ literacy networks and technologies, I argue that transnational-multilingual migrants, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the ensuing floods in 2017, have leveraged what I call transnational ecological literacies, that is, linguistic and semiotic resources across different systems, contexts, and modalities in a post-disaster context. Drawing from audio- or video-recorded interviews, observations, and written artifacts of twenty multilingual survivors and ten first responders and community workers, I illustrate how language minorities adopt rhetorical scaling to navigate the disaster recovery process and its monolingual-based norms and how they assemble heterogeneous language resources and technologies such as culturally specific social networking applications through rhetorical agency. Ultimately, this ethnographic case study contends that the recovery process and disaster-specific literate activities help transnational-multilingual survivors reshape their relationships to land, places, and environments and offer implications for transnational literacy studies, environmental communication studies, disaster management fields, and writing pedagogy.