Oral histories of newly arrived migrant children’s experiences of schooling in Denmark from the 1970s to the 1990s

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    The paper presents a study aiming at historicizing the schooling experiences of migrant children with a nonwestern background from the 1970s to the 1990s in the Danish education system. The focus is on how the students experienced their reception in the school institution and how school was preparing the students for the transition between elementary school and further education and labor market. The main methodology is oral history interviews with people who arrived in the Danish education system as children with a non-western background. The focus on the immigrant groups from non-western countries is chosen due to the fact that Danish education politics since the 1970s have targeted these groups of students as groups needing extracurricular education efforts for inclusion (Buchardt, 2016). However, there seems to be a knowledge deficit concerning the ‘effects’ of these policies from a student perspective in the period between the 1970s and the 1990s. Previous research in the field of education and other welfare provisions for migrant children in a historical perspective since the work-immigrant wave begun in the 1960s in Denmark has been on the policy-makers (e.g. Jønsson, 2013), provision providers (e.g. Øland, 2010; Padovan-Özdemir & Ydesen, 2016), the curriculum materials (e.g. Buchardt, 2016) and less from a student perspective. Oral history is a research approach that produces the sources as well as being the method to select and interpret the (oral) sources, and in both senses it engages with experience. Consequently, this project illuminates the students’ experience of practiced educational policy in order to capture both the past (history) and the past as it appears in the present (the memory) (Bak, 2016). The intention is to generate new knowledge about how reception- and integration models and preparation to labor market were practiced in a student perspective from the 1970s to the 1990s, but just as importantly to explore how students ascribe meaning to the school experience today (inspired by Grønbæk Jensen, Rasmussen, & Kragh, 2016, p. 113). Historically, education has especially since the emergence of the modern nation-states been linked to the state and the production of its work force and citizenry and thus of belonging to the national space (Popkewitz, 2000). Buchardt (2018) argues that the educational political efforts since the 1970s in Denmark directed toward newly arrived migrants and their children can also be viewed as a means to circumscribe welfare distribution and in Popkewitz’ (2007) terms as double registers of inclusion and exclusion, as well as a hierarchy of inclusion. Theoretically, the study thus seeks to illuminate the historical development of the internal bordering of the nation in the context of the Danish welfare-state model (Kettunen, 2011; Suszycki, 2011) through exploring how the historical hierarchies of inclusion and exclusion in education and in relation to the labor market preparation in education are experienced by students under shifting policies from the 1970s to the 1990s.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2019
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventISCHE 41SPACES AND PLACES OF EDUCATION - University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
    Duration: 16 Jul 201920 Jul 2019


    LocationUniversity of Porto


    • Migrant Children
    • Education
    • Labor Market Preparation
    • Inclusion-Exclusion


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