Decolonial activism and social justice efforts in a variety of modalities and languages come across and inform my scholarly pursuits. Advancing a decolonial feminist approach to Latinx rhetoric scholarship, my work illuminates the rhetorical histories of actors who have spent their life in defiance of coloniality with the hope of liberation for oppressed and marginalized peoples, and the rhetorical forms that these efforts take shape.

Karrieann delivering a presentation with a background of Lolita Lebrón's Washington Post cover, with a headline reading "When Terror Wore Lipstick"

Based on my award-winning dissertation (Association for the History of Rhetoric Dissertation Award, 2018), Rhetorics of Defiance is a feminist rhetorical recovery project of Lolita Lebrón, a 20th century Puerto Rican nationalist and revolutionary woman. Throughout her long life, Lolita Lebrón advocated for Puerto Rican sovereignty—an issue that has become ever more pressing in the contemporary context of (trans)colonial crises.

To study what I call “rhetorics of defiance” I utilize a mix of qualitative research methods, including archival research, video interviews, and auto-ethnographic narratives. My work arises out of the need to continue providing solidarity for Caribbean Puerto Ricans, among other marginalized communities in pursuit of environmental, socio-economic, and political justice.

As a cultural rhetorician and multimodal composition researcher, I have made strides to reach a public audience. For instance, a short piece I wrote about the Netflix show, One Day at a Time, was included in a textbook titled Race in American Television: Voices and Visions that Shaped a Nation (2021). As a way to reach audiences beyond academia, and building on my previous experiences with sonic rhetoric—mainly in the graduate-student produced podcast, This Rhetorical LifeI have tuned to public radio. I have been interviewed for podcasts, local community radio stations, and public radio syndicate stations.

Karrieann presenting in front of a podium that reads

I aim to continue to extend conversations and theorizations regarding Puerto Ricans and other marginalized communities through my service in national organizations. I see these organizational contexts as another opportunity to instantiate my research into actionable policy concerns. Such was the case in the collaboratively written “CCCC Statement of Professional Guidance for Mentoring Graduate Students” (2019). Therefore, my research informs and enriches other aspects of my life as an academic and an activist, a DiaspoRican feminista, and scholar of cultural rhetoric and multimodal composition.

Selected Publications:

In Progress

Rhetorics of Defiance: Lolita Lebrón, Feminism, and Puerto Rican Nationalist Struggles. Under Advanced Contract with Ohio State UP.

“Decolonization From the Halls of Global Diplomacy to the Cultural Trenches of Puerto Rico.” In Interrogating the Future of Puerto Rican Studies, eds. Jorell Meléndez-Badillo and Aurora Santiago. Duke UP.

“Amplifying Autogestión & Cultural Rhetorics of Resistance.” College Composition and Communication.

Journal Articles

“The Imperious Rule of Julia Keleher: Gender, Race, and Colonialism in the Corruption of Public Education in Puerto Rico.” CENTRO: Journal for the Center of Puerto Rican Studies, 25.2 (2022).

“A Conversation on Sound, Rhetoric, and Community with Karrieann Soto Vega and Steven Hammer.” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. Special Issue on Sound and Social Change. 26.1 (2021). Web.

“Afterlives of Anticolonial Dissent: Performances of Public Memory Within and Against the United States of América.” Journal for the History of Rhetoric, 24.1 (2021): 69-86. Print.

Colonial Causes and Consequences: Climate Change and Climate Chaos in Puerto Rico.” Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture, 32 (2020). Web.

“Sounding Out a Rhetoric of Resilience: Curating Plena in DiaspoRican Activism.” Journal of Multimodal Rhetoric, 4.1 (2020). Web.

“Puerto Rico Weathers the Storm: Autogestión as a Coalitional Counter-Praxis of Survival.” feral feminisms, 9 (2019): 39-55. Print.

“Latinx Rhetoric and Intersectionality in Racial Rhetorical Criticism” with Karma Chávez. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 15.4 (2018): 319-325. Print.