Rural women teachers : their narrative identities and reflections on community life.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This study explores the narrative identities of two generations of rural women teachers who live in a small Canterbury mixed farming district that also serves tourists. These eight women's stories were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews. The women have all married local farmers after arriving as newcomers to teach, in either the 1960s to early 1970s or the 1990s, at the secondary or primary schools within the area. This thesis explores how the women narrate multiple identities as teachers, wives, mothers, farmers and community members. These identities shift over time, space and in relation to the women's context, whether they are relating with other people locally in the rural community, with their family of origin in the city, or elsewhere. Yet, the majority of these women also negotiate their identities into what appears to be a more essential "me." The women's own concept of community is explored, in addition to the number of communities they each belong to (defined either geographically or symbolically). The way the women identify themselves as "newcomers or outsiders" and "locals or insiders" is also analysed in relation to their sense of belonging. Throughout this thesis an intergenerational comparison of the women's stories is made.