TitleHyphenation and Its discontents
NameGermana, Rachelle (author), Zerubavel, Eviatar (chair), Cohen, Ira (internal member), Williams, Richard (internal member), Cerulo, Karen (internal member), Wagner-Pacifici, Robin (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
DescriptionThis study explores the social logic of hyphenation, moving hyphenation beyond grammar and instead highlighting the way in which it performs socio-politically. In doing so, I use hyphenation as a gateway to a discussion about the cultural politics of ambiguity. In particular, I employ two settings of “hyphenated identities,” Hyphenated Americanism and surname hyphenation, to expose a hidden debate related more generally to ambiguity and ambivalence in American culture. A reading of these settings, which includes interviews with 30 surname hyphenators, reveals a conflict between hyphenation and cultural narratives that tend to favor unity, solidity, singularity, and an either/or vision of social categories. Within these cultural narratives, so-called Hyphenated Americans and surname hyphenators have often been similarly perceived as ambivalent and such a tendency exposes a tension not only between rigid and flexible logics for classifying identity, but also a related tension between the politics of identity and the politics of ambiguity. Furthermore, the discourses surrounding the hyphenation of these identities also draw attention to the anxiety provoked by ambiguity and how this anxiety becomes shaped and reinforced by contrasting notions of purity and pollution, security and danger, and social order and disorder. My analysis examines how these identities have been constituted and contested in this way and considers the implications for social classification more generally.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Rachelle Germana
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.