Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

David W. Stinson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Janice B. Fournillier, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christine D. Thomas, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Katherine D. Perry, Ph.D.


Afro-Caribbean immigrant women are part of the brilliant makeup of Black excellence in the United States. Nevertheless, the experiences of Afro-Caribbean women as mathematics learners and as mathematics educators in U.S. institutions of higher education have yet to gain interest among researchers. These experiences are too often absent in the literature or are more times than not buried within categories such as women, foreign-born, or “Other” (Alfred & Swaminathan, 2004; Lather, 1991). When the experiences of Afro-Caribbean women are the focus of research, that inquiry rarely extends into the discipline of mathematics (Beck, 2010; King Miller, 2013) and is nearly nonexistent in examining the experiences of mathematics educators.

The aim of this qualitative study, therefore, was to examine the social and contextual experiences of Afro-Caribbean women as mathematics learners and as mathematics educators in U.S. institutions of higher education. The narrative research project (e.g., Polkinghorne, 1988) employed figured worlds (e.g. Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 1998) and intersectionality (e.g. Collins & Bilge, 2016) as theoretical frameworks. Data collection included dialogical interviews (Kvale, 2007) and documentary data (Patton, 2002); data analysis included dialogic and categorical approaches (Charmaz, 2014; Goodall, 2000). A heuristic (Moustaskas, 1990) approach to the study included the researcher positioning herself as a guide representing the outcomes of the analysis.

The analysis of the data showed that when Afro-Caribbean women enter the figured world of mathematics as learners, an actualization of their social positioning, based on practices witnessed, creates spaces for authoring their self-in-person now as mathematics educators. As the now actualized mathematics educator, Afro-Caribbean women become advocates in mentoring people who look and sound like them and use key moments to educate others about their Caribbean figured worlds. Afro-Caribbean women shared moments of how being Black, women, and immigrant in mathematics figured worlds brought both challenging and dismaying experiences as well as praiseworthy experiences. Nonetheless, as demonstrated by the participants’ narratives, having a strong sense of self, knowledge, and purpose is useful in making oppressive moments teaching and learning opportunities rather than sources of distress in their mathematics and academic figured worlds.

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