"The Burden of Liveness": DACA Recipients and the Rhetoric of Resistance

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences


English Department

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Dora Ramírez


“The Burden of liveness” was described by Jose Munoz (1999) as the “need for minoritarian subjects to ‘be live’ for the purpose of entertaining elites.” The concept of embodiment and (dis)identification are combined within what it means to exist in “liveness,” and illustrates the danger found within the rhetoric used to describe immigrant bodies. The term DREAMer has been used to name recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; the DREAMer is blameless, and has earned their “American-ness” through high achievement and entrepreneurship. When not identified as DREAMers, recipients are identified as “illegals,” “animals,” and so forth. As DACA recipients seek to (dis)identify from these terms, they strive to overperform, and thus carry the burden of liveness.

But the burden of liveness can also be a means of resistance. Disidentification and the burden of liveness envision a future of equality and strive for it. As immigration policy turns to extremes, a secular conversion (Burke) in which DACA recipients call into question the organizing factor of the nation-state is necessary. This presentation will analyze how rhetoric affects the DACA recipients’ personhood and how they resist such effects.

This document is currently not available here.