Department or Program



With the rise of political discourse on immigration in America and the resulting linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity, American public schools must negotiate the boundaries of accommodation and assimilation for their diverse student populations. As an aspiring educator, I am drawn to the performance of institutionalized American national identity within a local school district. The arrival of Somali refugees in early 2001 to Lewiston – a former mill town in the state with the whitest demographic – challenged the parameters of what it means to be a member of the community, especially within the classroom. By analyzing the English Language Learner (ELL) program, Lewiston’s approach to the nation’s policies of secular education, and the Blue Devils Soccer Team, I argue that schools are where nations are imagined and that the Lewiston Public School system defines “Americanness” through the inclusion and exclusion of Somali identities. I also investigate theories surrounding various understandings of nationalism – ethnocentric and polycentric – and their role in determining the permeability of ascribed boundaries of acceptance and repudiation. This thesis attempts to answer the larger question of “How do schools make Americans?” in the hopes of using these findings to elicit educational reform and social change.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Danforth, Loring

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2016

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.