Self-Other Encounters and Ordeals of Aspiration among Young Moroccan Immigrants in Spain

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North African youth who join their parents in Spain in childhood or adolescence face challenges unlike those of the older generation. Moving through institutional spaces and processes, from public school to post-secondary training and work, first-generation youth exercise cultural and linguistic bridging capacities while facing continual challenges as representatives of a racially stigmatized minority. This article focuses on life story narratives from Moroccan young people living in the southeast municipality of El Ejido since the late 1990s to highlight how Self-Other encounters ‒ a well-established framework in Maghrebine ethnography ‒ and goals of upward mobility shape experiences of coming-of-age in an unwelcoming context. I apply Bakhtin’s notion of Bildungsroman to explore first-generation interviewees’ narratives as a series of ordeals, adaptive responses, and growing self-knowledge and autonomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-253
Number of pages17
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Aspiration
  • Bildungsroman
  • Immigration
  • Morocco
  • Narrative
  • Self-Other
  • Spain
  • Youth


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