Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Joyce E. King, PhD

Second Advisor

Janice B. Fournillier, PhD

Third Advisor

Vera Stenhouse, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Kristen Buras, PhD


This interdisciplinary study devised a Blues Methodology to investigate how a historically marginalized Black community conceives, practices and theorizes about citizenship in community-based pedagogical spaces (Douglas & Peck, 2013). Guiding questions were 1) How does a historically marginalized Black community conceive and practice citizenship? 2) How does the community’s conception and citizenship praxis compare to the dominant society’s conception? And 3) How can both conceptions inform citizenship education and citizenship research?

To conduct this qualitative cultural study, I extended Clyde Woods’ Blues Epistemology and Sylvia Wynter’s theoretical construct of alterity into a methodology capable of illuminating the community’s culturally indigenous knowledge (ways of knowing) using cultural tools meaningful to them. Blues Methodology is a community-based inquiry approach employing a reflective researcher strategy that positions researcher in dialogue with community members to uncover culturally indigenous ways of knowing as well as hegemonic perspectives and community agency.

The historically marginalized Black community of focus is located in “The South” where inhumane violence was routinely practiced against Africans and African Americans during and after enslavement. Terrorism was particularly brutal due to the intense labor required by the agrarian economy. Marginalization is a lasting legacy of enslavement, Jim Crow and structurally other forms of embedded racism. Twelve long term multigenerational community residents ranging in age from 17 to 80 years old, participated in this study. Two types of data were collected: oral and written. Oral data were collected from conversations and interviews with participants, written introspective data were collected from journaling. Researcher reflections also consisted of conversations with fictional characters who were constructed to protect my relationship with community participants and present childhood experiences that informed the research. Findings reveal that community conceptions of citizenship foster belonging and identity. Citizens theorized about their social economic historical political selves in the context of the local landscape. In contrast, the dominant society’s citizenship conception is an inclusion/exclusion dialectic that generically defines citizens selectively while excluding swaths of the U.S. population from curricula thus devaluing certain students and communities and relegating their knowledge to the margins at the expense of human freedom.