Dissertation Abstracts

Children travelling through the present. Narratives of transnational mobility in school

Author: Amadasi, Sara , samadasi@yahoo.it
Department: FISPPA
University: University of Padova, Italy
Supervisor: Prof. Valerio Belotti
Year of completion: 2015
Language of dissertation: Italian

Keywords: Children , Transnationalism , School , Interactions
Areas of Research: Childhood , Language and Society , Migration


In the last decade a meaningful number of children with a migration background has been included in Italian schools. In including these children, schools face major changes, including the development of courses for learning Italian as a second language and the management of periods of absence of those children who have temporal return experiences to their – or their family's – countries of origin during the academic year.

These trips represent both a relevant event for the school, introducing a break in the school system that reveals social changes of great interest to social sciences, and a meaningful investigation's field in the study of children.

While the studies that refer to the more traditional developmental psychology interpret these transnational experiences as disadvantageous for the child and for his/her identity formation, recent migration studies tend to look at children's international mobility as a resource to acquire a special ability to move between different cultural identities and for the development of intercultural or multicultural identity.
In both cases, however, it is possible to recognize, on the one hand, a still dominant conception of the child as "in-developing subject", which builds an image of children as passive recipients of cultural and social influences and, on the other, an essentialist approach applied to the concepts of identity and culture.

In line with the epistemological break with the more traditional developmental psychology introduced by the new sociology of childhood and adopting a non-essentialist perspective, this PhD work, based on a one year research conducted in two Italian schools, investigates the process through which children actively participate in the interaction and, therefore, in the generation of meanings related to their travel experiences and how the teachers for their part give meaning to these transnational mobility experiences involving students.

In particular, positioning theory, analysis of interactions and analysis of narratives, applied to data collected through audio-video recordings of interactions with children aged 7 to 15 and interviews with 19 teachers, allow to observe narratives and interactional practices through which participants show their active participation in the construction of meanings related to transnational mobility as well as, more generally, in social processes.