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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Welply, O. (2015). Re-imagining Otherness: An exploration of the global imaginaries of children from immigrant backgrounds in primary schools in France and England. European Educational Research Journal 14(5): 430-453.

Author(s) from Durham


This article examines the role of global representations in immigrant-background children’s social imaginaries in primary schools in France and England. Increased globalisation, mobility and migration hold strong implications in terms of identity and belonging for children from immigrant backgrounds in schools in European countries, based on traditionally monocultural educational systems. However, most studies of immigrant children’s identities are restricted to national frameworks which overlook the role of the global in children’s experiences and representations. Based on a cross-national ethnographic study, which investigated the identity narratives of 10- and 11-year-old immigrant-background children in two primary schools, one in France and one in England, this article investigates the way in which these global imaginaries participate in children’s identity narratives, through a re-negotiation of fixed national imaginary frameworks. Building on central concepts from the work of Paul Ricoeur on social imaginary and ideology and utopia, this article argues that immigrant-background children’s global imaginary, in both cases, held a utopian function, allowing children to transcend lines of national, ethnic or linguistic differentiation created around the construction of Otherness in school. This utopian function, however, was defined differently in the French and English schools.

School of Education