Narratives of Latino-American immigrant women's experiences

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Lopez-Damian, Judith
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 2008.
This thesis explores the immigration experiences of five Latino-American women who reside in Lethbridge, Alberta. Rather than using interviews as a research protocol, the author used conversation as a tool to explore the narratives of these women’s experiences. Four of the five told their story in Spanish, and after transcribing the conversations, the author used critical inquiry to find common ground between the women’s narratives and her own immigration experiences. This thesis explores topics such as belonging and connections to different communities and how these women use stories of change and continuity in constructing their identities. Language, employment, recognition of previous education as well as separation from their families and support networks were the main difficulties identified. As anticipated, these women accessed federally funded and provincially delivered immigrant settlement services, such as ESL classes. While hesitant to use formal counselling, three of the women accessed these services for gendered matters such as spousal abuse. Relationships based on kinship were crucial resources and central to their narratives as was church, which provided both a familiar and significant source of community and support. This study found that when using conversation the researcher establishes relationships with the participants, other writers/academics, as well as the readers. Thus this thesis suggests that narrative research is fundamentally a relational activity. In this context stories are considered gifts, and the exchange of gifts an important aspect of research design. The narratives were shaped by, and interpreted in light of, various contextual factors such as the women’s relationships with the researcher, and their individual as well as socio-cultural and historical circumstances. The five women who participated in this research were found through community networking, and had some familiarity with counselling–either as service recipients or a professional connection–circumstances which shaped their willingness to participate as well as the stories they narrated about their immigration experiences. In constructing the narratives of their past experiences, from the vantage point of the present, the women emphasize gratitude to Canada and only subtly allude to issues such as racism or stereotyping.
viii, 170 leaves ; 29 cm. --
Dissertations, Academic , Women immigrants -- Alberta -- Lethbridge -- Social conditions , Immigrants -- Alberta -- Lethbridge -- Social conditions , Mexicans -- Alberta -- Lethbridge -- Social conditions , Latin Americans -- Alberta -- Lethbridge -- Social conditions