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Educating for Exile? The Effects of Emigration on the Roles and Identities of Salvadoran Schoolteachers


This study critically examines the effects of emigration on the roles and identities of public-school teachers in El Salvador. Framed within the context of globalization and international migration, it utilizes a phenomenological approach in order to conceptualize the ways in which rising emigration rates have changed perceived and actual teacher roles, teacher perceptions of identity and citizenship, and their relationship to the state and civil society. Using El Salvador as a case study, this research examines the impact of migration - of students, family members, and teachers themselves - on the lived experiences, role construction, and identity of Salvadoran educators. In-depth phenomenological interviews were conducted with 19 teachers from two schools: one in a semi-urban border town where migration was a part of everyday life, and the other in a rural village on the outskirts of San Salvador where cases of migration were few and far between. Through these interviews, I examine how teachers make meaning of their personal, professional, and national identities in the context of fluid and dynamic processes of migration and globalization. My findings highlight the contradictions and tensions that emerge from these meaning-making processes. Finally, I argue that the conflicts experienced by teachers seeking to define their individual and collective identities represent a larger struggle between forces of nationalism and transnationalism, leading to new questions about teaching and learning models in El Salvador, as well as the role of teachers and public education within and across national borders.

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