Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures


Ariana Mangual Figueroa

Committee Members

Miki Makihara

José del Valle

Subject Categories

Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Linguistic Anthropology | Social Justice


language, immigration, community radio, activism, identity


This dissertation project traces the concerted efforts of an emergent Latinx immigrant community in Westplain, Minnesota to construct and assert their individual and collective identities within the public sphere through a range of multimodal and face-to-face communicative resources. I address enduring questions within the fields of linguistic anthropology, language education, and Latinx (media) studies through a multi-sited ethnography centered around three focal field sites: (1) a Spanish-language community radio program I call La Gran Comunidad Latina (LGCL); (2) a college-level civic engagement Spanish conversation course titled Noticias Comunitarias (NC) designed and taught in partnership with LGCL; and (3) an antiracist coalition collaboratively led by LGCL’s non-profit derivative, Comadres Unidas (CU), and other local organizing groups. The data analyzed in this dissertation were collected through fieldwork I conducted between 2019-2022 across these three sites and included: over 300 hours of the publicly available digital radio archive, fieldnotes the year-long virtual NC class and interviews with 12 enrolled students, and 8 months of participant observation in WOTA.

This study suggests that research on community radio in the rural Midwest, situated broadly within the New Latino Diaspora, offers critical insights into how emergent Latinx immigrant communities and their allies negotiate and assert their identities in the public sphere. I analyze three sociolinguistic processes across the field sites: first, the construction of a collective Latinx immigrant community voice on LGCL and how individual speakers negotiate their belonging to that voice. Second, I examine the impact of a language education model designed to disrupt typical forms of knowledge production by gathering students and Latinx community members in the same learning space, in particular for Latina students at a predominantly white institution. And third, I observe how LGCL/CU leverages its collective, unified voice and the power associated with it to push forward an antiracist agenda in Westplain through the speech genre of testimonio. By situating LGCL within its broader media ecologies, I trace and analyze the linguistic and semiotic resources that the hosts, students, and allies employ across modality and time to position themselves in relation to one another, the Latinx community, and the town’s community at large.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Tuesday, September 30, 2025

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