Fragile fixings: An exploration of the self -representations of white women teachers in one isolated northern Indigenous community

Aitken, Avril.   University of Ottawa (Canada) ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  2005. NR10940.

Abstract (summary)

This thesis examines how white women teachers, who have worked or are working in one isolated, Indigenous community in Northern Canada, construct a sense of self and their work. It offers an analysis of the self-representations of seven white women teachers that draws on poststructural, psychoanalytic and postcolonial theory. The thesis demonstrates the ways in which the social and the psychic, the exterior and the interior, and discourse and the unconscious interconnect in the construction of gendered and racialized teacher identity.

The thesis takes the position that identity formation is worked out in the intersubjective space between individuals as they position themselves through the continuous renegotiation of power relations and the differentiated discourses that are available to them. Further, the thesis explores the way in which conscious and unconscious processes influence how white women teachers position themselves.

The research methodology highlights the use of film as a research tool. Judith P. Robertson's (2004) technique of Screenplay Pedagogy, which brings unconscious processes to the attention of the researcher and participants, was employed as one of the primary techniques. This approach involves: collective viewing of a film text; attention to deeply felt psychic and somatic moments; writing; and discussion. In subsequent phases of the data collection for the project, each participant wrote a monologue and was interviewed.

The thesis is structured around three major themes that emerged through the research process: communities and relationships; teacher role, values, beliefs and actions; and student and teacher potential. The women's monologues are investigated as individual cases that contribute to the exploration of the importance of each theme in the process of identity formation.

The thesis demonstrates the significance of the dreams, fantasies and hopes that the women associate with teaching. It highlights the impact of the phenomenon of 'othering' on the Indigenous students and community. It demonstrates the role of communities and of competing discourses in education in the formation of professional identity and in the women's sense of being able, or not, to continue to teach in the isolated Indigenous community.

Indexing (details)

School administration;
Educational administration
0514: Educational administration
Identifier / keyword
Education; Community; Indigenous; Self-representations; White women; Women educators
Fragile fixings: An exploration of the self -representations of white women teachers in one isolated northern Indigenous community
Aitken, Avril
Number of pages
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
University of Ottawa (Canada)
University location
Canada -- Ontario, CA
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL