Being a migrant learner in a South African primary school: recognition and racialisation

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This article is an exploration of racialised understandings of migrant learners within the educational space of primary school and the social context of xenophobia in South Africa. These understandings draw from small-scale creative visual research that focused on migrant learners’ perspectives on their school experiences. Framed by the concepts of ‘recognition’ and ‘White privilege’, it uses the spatial encounter between two learners–one racialised as White and one as Black–and draws on elements of storytelling to present their fragmentary, mosaic-like narratives, highlighting two facets of racialisation: the prizing of White migrant identities and the erasure of Black migrant identities. This study contributes to the field of children’s geographies in terms of revealing how migrant primary school children experience the school space differently as differently racialised individuals, as well as how research approaches common in education (picturebooks) and Critical Race Theory (storytelling) can enable such stories to emerge in migration research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-532
Number of pages15
JournalChildren's Geographies
Issue number3
Early online date5 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Education
  • South Africa
  • White privilege
  • migration
  • racialisation
  • visual methods


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