Date of Graduation

2012

Document Type

Restricted Dissertation - USF access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department/Program

Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Ellen A. Herda

Second Advisor

Shabnam Koirala-Azad

Third Advisor

Laleh Shahideh

Abstract

Research Topic

This research studies the experiences of Central American immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and is focused on the mimetic power of the narrative to foster within the individual a sense of home, identity, and forgiveness, calling for meaningful action.

Theory and Protocol

Using critical hermeneutic field based protocol (Herda 1999), I analyzed the data, transcriptions of conversations with Nicaraguan, Salvadoran and Guatemalan immigrants in the Bay Area, and interpreted the narratives of the participants' pasts, including the causes of their fleeing their homelands, in light of a shared imagined future, on both personal and institutional levels, in order to come to new understandings in the present about home, narrative identity (Ricoeur 1983) and forgiveness (Ricoeur 1992). This research is also focused on the research participants' experiences with applying for asylum through the United States government and their ideas on fostering communicative action (Habermas 1998).

Findings

The sense of narrative identity instilled in the research participant through the mimetic configuration (Ricoeur 1983) of time and place with others: 1) guides the growth of an immigrant's personal conception of home; 2) fosters a realization of one's ontological connection to others and a mutual commitment towards ethical and communicative action in the future; 3) may lead to individuals seeking and giving forgiveness, and develop new and shared understanding of the past. Three actions surfaced from the analysis: 1) a plan for further, ongoing narrative symposiums, or workshops, 2) a call for reform of United States immigration law and policy, 3) a call for communicative action on an international level.

The interpretation of the narratives of immigrants following critical hermeneutic protocol can also be useful to individuals who work with immigrants, such as educators, lawyers, and lawmakers as an inroad into immigrants' lives, in order to better understand the complex historical, social, political, and economic forces that work in tandem to create the conditions which led to their migration.

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