Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Women's Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Amira Jarmakani

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Talburt

Third Advisor

Dr. Julie Kubala


The right wing anti-immigration movement’s recent surge in racial panic and paranoia concerning the specter of the overly fertile Mexican migrant mother and her US-born child points to a discursive struggle over the meaning of citizenship and illegality. Starting from the assumption that both citizenship and illegality are highly contested and fluid political and moral categories, this project examines how white supremacist and heteronormative ideologies and political emotions like love and fear construct both Mexican migrants and their children as “illegal,” while simultaneously shrinking the meaning and enactment of citizenship for everyone. I argue that citizens of Mexican descent are racialized and sexualized as “illegal,” in order to warrant their exclusion, though not their expulsion, from the biopolitical fold of the nation-state.