Purdue University Graduate School
Kozlowska Thesis Spring 2023.pdf (987.96 kB)

The Permanence of a Tattoo: Narratives of an Undocumented Student

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posted on 2023-04-12, 12:39 authored by Wiktoria KozlowskaWiktoria Kozlowska

Narratives of undocumented students reveal that, commonly, a shared concern of such youth is a sense of powerlessness in the school environment; this lack of control predominantly stems from legal restrictions and anti-immigrant sentiment among peers and staff (Chang, 2017). However, there is a danger in treating undocumented youth as a monolith, as well as in failing to recognize their agency (Abrego & Negrón-Gonzales, 2020). Autoethnography, as a methodology, is by its very nature an act of agency which allows vulnerable populations to deeply explore their own sensitive identities (Philaretou & Allen, 2006). This thesis thus highlights my own voice as an undocumented student by combining the temporality, sociality and place of narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) with critical autoethnography’s attention to social inequities (Adams, 2017). Critical reflections on my educational experiences, as they compare and contrast with narratives in existing literature, imagine possible futures in which pre- and in-service teachers may more equitably support undocumented students in the classroom. Additionally, research on undocumented students predominantly focuses on immigrants of Latinx origin, who constitute almost eighty percent of the undocumented population (Migration Policy Institute, 2019); under a queer theoretical framework, my identity as a White immigrant of European origin uniquely problematizes naturalized attitudes towards the racialization of undocumented status. 


Degree Type

  • Master of Science in Education


  • Curriculum and Instruction

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. JoAnn Phillion

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Dr. Stephanie Oudghiri

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Jake Burdick

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