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Co-Creating a Curriculum Journey: A Participatory Exploration of how Zimbabwean Immigrant Youth in an Urban Alberta Community Negotiate Liminality in their Lived Experiences Open Access


Other title
Participatory Research
Immigrant Youth
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Masimira, Mildred T
Supervisor and department
Dr. Diane Conrad (Secondary Education)
Dr. Dwayne Donald (Secondary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Dr David Smith (Secondary Education)
Dr Rahat Naqvi (Faculty of Education)
Dr. Diane Conrad (Secondary Education)
Dr. Dwayne Donald (Secondary Education
Dr. Lynette Shultz (Educational Policy Studies)
Dr. Olenka Bilash (Secondary Education)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Many people have told stories concerning their experiences as immigrants in diaspora communities (Trueba & Bartolomé, 2000). Many of these stories tell of unimaginable hardships, strife, pain as well as joy as immigrants settle into the host country. The diaspora literature in Canada has not adequately documented research on immigrant youth from their point of view. More so, research on Zimbabwean immigrant youth is non-existent. This study seeks to understand immigrant life journeys of Zimbabwean youth with a focus on the “liminal” qualities of their experiences. A significant number of researchers (Gennep, 1960; Turner, 1967; and more recently Anzaldúa, 2000; Bhabha, 1994; Ledgister, 2001; Bannerji, 2000) have discussed liminality as a phase that everyone encounters at different points in life. In the summer of 2014, six immigrant youth from Zimbabwe, all residing in Alberta, agreed to take part in a participatory research study that explored this main question: What implications does conceptualizing Zimbabwean immigrant youth experiences as liminal, through the collaborative creation of a curriculum artefact, have for understanding immigrant youth experiences and how can this process contribute to the youths’ ongoing negotiation of their experiences? I wondered: Will the youth understand their experiences as liminal? What curriculum artefact will the youth create with me? How do youth negotiate their experiences and how has the participatory research process aided in their curriculum journeys? Focus groups (Kitzinger, 2004) and interviews (Creswell, 2007) engaged youth in discussions to explore their understanding of their own identities as immigrants, thereby creating a space where they could effectively negotiate liminality. The participants engaged in a total of seven focus groups along with one individual interview each. The culmination of the study, based on youths’ interests and what they identified as important, congruent with participatory research sensibilities, was the creation of a curriculum artefact in the form of an e-handbook. The purpose of the artefact was to articulate information about life in Canada to prospective immigrant youth. Study findings indicated that the research participants identified with the concept of liminality as it manifests in their daily life experiences. They articulated liminal experiences through three themes that emerged from our discussions: parent-child tensions, language, and foreign credentials/professional upgrades. Findings also included the ways in which youth negotiated their experiences of liminality. This study adds to the body of literature on youth immigration and education, with specific emphasis on Zimbabwean immigrant youth experiences conceptualized as liminal.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
Citation for previous publication
Masimira, M. T. (2013). Negotiating liminal spaces: Purposeful pedagogy in diverse classrooms. Northwest Journal of Teacher Education 11(1), 82-102.

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