Crafting Tolerant Citizens: Schools, Immigration, and the Struggle for Shared Values in Southeast Spain
Dr. Maisa Taha
February 24, 2016
Cohen Lounge, Dickson Hall
Sponsored by the MSU Department of Anthropology
How are the ideals of democratic inclusion made real, especially in rapidly changing multicultural contexts? With 3.3 percent of the world’s population now living outside of their countries of origin, and with a rise in immigration to new destinations outside of metropolitan centers, the creation of inclusive, diverse communities is not a self-evident project but instead requires an understanding of how values such as tolerance, equality, and belonging get crafted and put to use, day by day.
This presentation focuses on efforts to promote these values in public schools in southeast Spain, a rapidly urbanizing agricultural area that recently became a new destination for migrants from a number of different countries. Social and economic divisions have fostered tensions between Moroccan immigrants and Spanish locals. With the memory of targeted attacks on the Moroccan community still looming large from February 2000, and with security concerns high, teachers’ efforts to instill shared respect for human rights, as well as gender and racial equality, have acquired special urgency.
Based on twelve months of fieldwork in a secondary school with 30 percent Moroccan student population, this talk examines not only what is taught as part of the state-mandated “democratic citizenship education” curriculum, but how it is taught and what this means for the goals of such lessons. Do the progressive values idealized through such pedagogies subtly reproduce the
divisions they aim to erase?