Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-20-2019


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Ronald C. Arnett

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Richard T. Thames


Gerrymandering, Communication Ethics, Decolonialism, Democratic Ethics, Border Rhetoric, Deliberative Democracy


This project attempts to understand the powerful force of political borders from a historical and communicative perspective. Of particular importance to this research is the role that political borders play in shaping individuals’ relationship to structures and practices of democracy. Following insights of decolonial and communication ethics scholars, this work understands the importance of ethically framing deliberations surrounding physical, metaphorical, and categorical political borders. Five chapters make up this work in the culmination of analyzing political gerrymandering as a form of democratic competition grounded in the rhetoric of colonialism. Tracing the colonial history of borders throughout American democracy provides this project the ground to discuss the evolution of challenges that gerrymandering has presented for democratic ethics. The aim of this research is to call attention to the hidden competitive forces that political borders have justified throughout the vast history of colonialism in America. The project does not conclude by calling for a deconstruction of borders, but rather a stronger understanding of the responsibilities that borders create in political society. Through decolonial border thinking and communication ethics, this work can show the necessary frameworks that democracy requires and to shine a light on how the manipulation of borders can corrupt the democratic ethics of public discourse.