Confusion and frustration as catalysts for change: ‘rich points’ in multicultural education

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Despite compelling need for transformational approaches to multiculturalism, the measures in place at many schools may be works in progress. Based on twelve months of fieldwork at the secondary-school level in El Ejido, Spain, and longitudinal interviews with key participants, this article examines conflicting articulations of race, racism, and civility shaping interactions in state mandated intercultural education courses. Interweaving analysis of in-class exchanges with attention to textual/audiovisual inputs and socio-historical contexts, this article employs a discourse-centred approach to untangle the tensions shaping local interpretations of race and racism, based particularly on the experiences of marginalised Moroccan immigrant youth. Drawing on Michael Agar’s notion of ethnographic ‘rich points’, or points of misunderstanding, I argue that the perspectives of diverse learners be leveraged to mindfully reconfigure top-down curricula through attention to distinctly local understandings of difference and inequality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-294
Number of pages16
JournalEthnography and Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2019


  • Discourse
  • Spain
  • immigration
  • multicultural education
  • political correctness
  • racism


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