Noticeably Invisible: Race, Intergroup Relations, and Immigrant Integration in Madrid
Tollette, Jessica Danielle
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CitationTollette, Jessica Danielle. 2017. Noticeably Invisible: Race, Intergroup Relations, and Immigrant Integration in Madrid. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractAt the end of the twentieth century, immigration rates to Europe increased dramatically. In Spain alone, the foreign-born population grew from less than four percent of the total population to almost 14 percent. Following this rapid demographic shift, Spain implemented an intercultural model of integration geared towards interaction, dialogue and exchange across groups. At the same time, immigrants struggled to express their culturally distinct identities while simultaneously integrating into their adopted society. Although research has explored the consequences of Spain’s immigration policies on the broad social inclusion of immigrants, the ways in which race influences immigrant integration remains largely unexamined.
My dissertation brings together an American focus on race with a European focus on culture and religion to paint a more complete picture of immigrant integration and intergroup relations in Spain. Using qualitative data from 105 in-depth interviews with immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, and Morocco, Spanish natives and immigration experts in Madrid, as well as participant observation data, I investigate the lived experiences of immigrants from these three countries and the pathways and roadblocks to their sociocultural integration into Spanish society. I also explore native Spaniards’ understanding of new racial, cultural and religious diversity and the policies created to address it.
In the dissertation, I explore respondents’ definitions of immigrant integration and how integration works from both a policy perspective and the on-the-ground experiences of natives and immigrants in Madrid. I also investigate intergroup relations looking specifically at neighborhoods and social networks. I examine how immigrants and natives in Madrid define race and think about the racial identity of themselves and others. Finally, I use respondents’ definitions of race to better understand how they think about racism and discrimination and how race affects immigrant integration.
I find that in many ways, Madrid has excelled at immigrant integration. There are few right wing political parties, neighborhoods are ethnically mixed, and the immigrants that I spoke to are mostly happy with their lives in Spain. The government has implemented a forward-thinking integration model of interculturalism that takes diversity and cross-cultural interaction seriously but it falls short around issues of race. Contrary to widely held European beliefs: race matters. Race complicates immigrant integration in unexpected ways and plays an important role in shaping experiences and opportunities for immigrants in Madrid. I conclude that Spain is at a key inflection point where they have the chance to take ownership of a fundamentally different approach to race to steer their country away from growing European populism and prejudice towards stronger collaboration, coexistence, and celebration of its increasingly multiracial and multicultural landscape.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41142038
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