Year of Publication

2009

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia Ehrkamp

Abstract

This thesis examines the role of interpretation in legal encounter in Lexington, Kentucky. Through an analysis of legal and interpretation practices, this study seeks to ascertain how these practices may affect non-native or low-proficiency English speakers’ (LLPs) experiences with both federal and local laws and legal spaces. This place-based study involves in-depth qualitative research. Using the methodological framework of feminist geo-jurisprudence, this research contributes to our understanding of 1) the limits of the publicity of legal space and, more specifically, the ways in which language barriers can prevent legal inclusion; 2) local strategies and tactics for dealing with the challenges to meaningful access before the law in terms of language as outlined by Title IV of the 1964 U.S. Civil Rights Act; 3) the broader implications of language access for immigrants and non-citizens at the intersection of legal discourse and society (discursive legal space). Furthermore, this research addresses the absence and presence of hospitality (Derrida, 2005) from this site of citizenship negotiation, and it addresses the ethics of hospitality behind the work that attempts to resist legal closure and to enforce laws that protect, rather than persecute, those facing language barriers.

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