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Moroccan immigrant children in a time of surveillance: navigating sameness and difference in contemporary Spain

Author(s): Inmaculada Garcia-Sanchez


Moroccan Immigrant Children in a Time of Surveillance: Navigating Sameness and Rooted in twenty months of ethnographic fieldwork in Southwestern Spain, this dissertation analyzes the socio-cultural and linguistic lifeworlds of 8-11 year-old Moroccan immigrant children as they navigate family, school institutions, and peer groups in Spain. To illuminate the constraints and affordances in Moroccan immigrant children's emerging processes of identification, this study focuses on how these children negotiate (and are impacted by) both local and macro politics of inclusion/exclusion in light of the increased levels of tension and surveillance directed towards Muslim and North African immigrants. This dissertation draws from theoretical and methodological approaches in linguistic and socio-cultural anthropology, sociology, and philosophy to provide a grid for mapping the complex issues that emerge in the lives of immigrant children growing up in multicultural and multilingual settings. First, children's social encounters in educational settings are analyzed. In spite of the discourse of inclusion that characterizes the public school's stated ideology, children's social engagements with peers and teachers reveal that Moroccan immigrant children are racialized as the 'Other' and constituted as 'outsiders' through routine participation in exclusionary practices and linguistically mediated regimes of surveillance. Second, in medical visits in which these children translate for their families and for Spanish doctors, children's modified translations are examined to illuminate how these children understand and traverse conflicting cultural spaces of host and immigrant communities. Third, the investigation of children's interactions with peers in ludic activities focuses on the socio-cultural and linguistic resources that children draw on to explore imagined transgressional possible identities and moral worlds. Within the framework of pretend-play, Moroccan children (re)produce and contest the everyday constraints that they must navigate in their communities. The coexistence of Moroccan Arabic and Spanish in children's games encapsulates a heteroglossic polyphony of voices that not only brings to bear the gendered, socio-political and cultural valences of these languages, but also distinct points of view on ways of being in the world. In addition to its relevance as a case study of language socialization in immigrant communities undergoing rapid change, this dissertation has implications for broader debates regarding Muslim immigrant children's educational and socio-cultural welfare in Europe.

APA Citation:

Garcia Sanchez, I. (2009). Moroccan immigrant children in a time of surveillance: navigating sameness and difference in contemporary Spain. Unpublished Dissertation. University of California, Los Angeles.


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