I found this interesting thesis based on the interethnic relations in Catalonia:



by Carles Serra i Salamé


This doctoral thesis is based on the ethnography of a state secondary school situated in an average-sized town in Catalonia with a medium-low socio-economic level and a population that includes considerable numbers of immigrants both from other parts of Spain and from some African countries (principally Morocco and Gambia). The thesis has four main aims:

To identify the discourses on ethnicity that are present among the students.
To analyse how these discourses condition the relationships established among the students.
To analyse the type of relationship established between the discourses on ethnicity and the different forms of violence that develop among students.
To determine the extent to which school policy can have an influence on the aforementioned discourses, relationships and violent forms of behaviour.

Apart from these aims, developed from the basis of an ethnographic observation of the above-mentioned secondary school, the thesis also includes bibliographical research and a theoretical clarification to situate the phenomena of identity, racism and violence within the historical and social context of the present day. The growing importance of these phenomena and the relationships established between them are explained in this context. The first part of the thesis endeavours to provide a theoretical context for the ethnographic research and to situate the classroom observations within a much wider social framework.

Once the theoretical and general analytical framework has been established, the second part of the thesis introduces contributions from educational sociologists and anthropologists to the analysis of how ethnic diversity, racism and violence are dealt with in schools. The type of research that has been carried out and the different positions adopted are then submitted to analysis. Ethnographic research has been given special priority, but there are also references to other studies carried out using different techniques and approaches. The aim of this second part is not to establish the hypotheses that I have contrasted with the ethnographical research but rather to examine the state of affairs on current research into the subject. I have thus been able to discover the principal lines of approach to the phenomena in question, the extent to which ethnography has been used, the main debates that have arisen and the working conclusions that can been drawn from this body of research.

The third and final part develops the ethnographic research by focusing on the interethnic relations among the students of Guillem d'Efak Secondary School in the town of Vilar. This third section contrasts different hypotheses, including the following:

It is predictable that discourses on ethnicity appear in relation to the different groups of African immigrants, given the relevance of immigration and the rejection that this phenomenon has generated in certain sectors of society,
It is also predictable that discourses on nationality appear among the students at Guillem d'Efak Secondary School, given the climate of political (and sometimes social) tension existing between Catalan nationalism/s and Spanish nationalism/s.

In relation to the discourses on identity, I raise the question of the similarities and differences between both types of discourse (otherness and nationality). I also analyse the importance of factors such as language (in the discourse on nationality), cultural differences (real or imaginary) and the criteria underlying the concepts of nationality and foreignness (in the discourse on otherness).

The discourses on nationality and ethnicity effectively condition the relationships established among students.
The discourse on otherness is used to justify discriminatory attitudes and behaviour and to justify aggression and inequality in relation to students from the Maghrib.
Racist violence stems from wider conflicts and tensions that originate in society and make their way into schools.
A relationship can be established between the violent attitudes shown towards the Maghribi students and the existence of a racist discourse.

On this latter issue, this thesis upholds that the existence of different forms of racial violence is not due to the presence in the classroom of particularly racist students whose racist ideology gives rise to this type of behaviour. On the contrary, these students pick Maghribi classmates as victims because the racism of the rest of the students renders these aggressions more acceptable or more feasible. The racism of the body of classmates is what directs the violence of some students against the Maghribi students. However, the causes of this violence are not to be found in any racist ideology as such.

One of the causes of the problems of violence and of the deterioration of interethnic relations is the ambiguous, contradictory, ambivalent attitude shown by schools and society towards the different immigrant groups.
Schools are not providing an adequate response to the increasing violence in the classrooms and drift along with a policy of repression that has proved to be totally ineffective.

These and other working hypotheses are contrasted in the third part of the thesis, which also offers a detailed description of the discourses on identity, prejudices and images that the different groups of students use in their interactions and also of the way in which these interactions are carried out. It is hoped that this approach to the discourses and the behaviour of young people will enable us to stop talking about racism and violence in the abstract and to discover how these abstractions are being manifested in the present day among young people in certain school contexts. In this sense, the author defends a more fragmented vision of racist ideology and favours the use of concepts such as discourses, which seem more appropriate to the fragmentation and mutability of racism today.