Do not call us racists! Reflections on stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination in school environments
The article, based on ethnographic observation and qualitative interviews, explores the subtle forms of discrimination and racism towards students of immigrant origin in some lower secondary schools and high schools situated in the city of Genoa. Despite the tendency to represent itself as an autonomous institution, the Italian school system is connected at various levels to the social, cultural and political background which it belongs to. Teachers and students bring inside the classrooms their ideas about different minority groups and about the place they should hold in a desirable society. I shall argue that the idea of intercultural exchange, frame of the policies of interaction in school contexts, may in practice be realized as a multicultural attitude which entails the risk to emphasize and naturalize difference and to foster hidden forms of exclusion. I shall also point out that the spreading of more open racist doscourses is a phenomenon that calls for further ethnographic research.
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