The schooling experiences of minority ethnic students in Northern Ireland

  • Romana Khaoury

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis investigates the experiences of minority ethnic students in mainly white schools and how they come to make sense of their experiences and negotiate their identities. Based upon a qualitative case study of Northern Ireland, and informed by Critical Race Theory, the thesis presents the counter stories of minority ethnic students aged between 12-17 years old living in the region. The findings demonstrate that their experience tends to be one where they are regarded as invisible and unwelcome; with a notable proportion experiencing religious and cultural hostility and racism. The findings show how many of the minority ethnic students are quite comfortable with their multiple and multifaceted identities and that often, despite the damaging experiences of racism, they are able to work reflexively in constituting themselves as fully integrated students within a mainly white school setting. Although the majority of them experienced some form of racist prejudice, they developed different strategies to deal with it when it arose. Furthermore, the students are not a homogeneous group culturally, nor do they live their lives in terms of cultural stereotypes; they are dynamic and positive. In addition, students became empowered to resist, contest and/or embrace the dominant and competing cultures of their white peers. The thesis represents one of only a few studies within the UK and Ireland to employ a Critical Race Perspective to understanding the experiences and perspectives of minority ethnic students. Moreover, it is one of the first of its kind to focus on the position of minority ethnic students living in a mainly white area. By exploring how the participants negotiate the existing sub-cultural contexts provided by the two white majority ethnic traditions in Northern Ireland, the thesis also makes a contribution to the notion of resistance as applied to the strategies employed by minority ethnic students.
Date of AwardDec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorPaul Connolly (Supervisor)

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