Negotiating a Gendered Neo-Calvinist Pillar: Immigrant Loss, Transformation, and Lifelong Learning
VanderVliet, Catharina F.
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Employing a critical feminist perspective, I conducted a sociocultural analysis of the lifelong learning of Dutch neo-Calvinist women who immigrated to Canada shortly after World War II. The purpose of the research was a critique of the institutional ruling relations (schooling, religion, family, workplace) that shaped and influenced the trajectory of these women’s lifelong learning. More specifically, the inquiry included an interrogation of their Canadian schooling experience, in the context of an immigrant family life, their pillarized Dutch culture, and Calvinist religiosity. In choosing a life history methodology, the scope of the research broadened where one’s life story was juxtaposed to a theory of context. Applying this methodology, I critically analyzed structures, operations, and contestations of power in lifelong learning institutions through an exploration of the multiple contexts that shaped the lives of immigrant women. It is within that relationship that the critical feminist was possible. The life histories were not a description of the mainstream but rather were positioned to dialectically interrogate the meaning and significance of the past as it influenced the present and future. Applying a dialectic method to the participants’ life histories, 7 tensions were raised that made visible ruling relations relevant to the participants’ everyday experiences and brought awareness to the underlying contextual and ideological assumptions related to their trajectory of lifelong learning. Employing a critical feminist perspective, I examined how 3 neo-Calvinist immigrant women interpreted and negotiated the ambiguity created by cultural contradictions experienced in a Canadian context. As a researcher who herself has been shaped by this specific immigrant experience, a key attribute of life history methodology was its capacity for the researcher self to be visible in the research.