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Article

‘Migrant schools’ and the ‘children of migrants’: constructing boundaries around and inside school space

This article examines ethnic segregation at school level in Russia and the symbolic boundaries constructed around schools attended by children of migrants, as well as inside them. While Russian cities are notable for the very low degree of spatial segregation along ethnic lines, numerous studies demonstrate that in recent years local residents have come to perceive some institutions as ‘migrant schools’ as these have pupils of more diverse ethnic backgrounds. In particular, children of migrants and ‘local’ children create their own symbolic divides between ‘us’ and ‘them’ that reflects the degree of a pupil’s integration into the host society rather than her ethnic origins. When conflict situations break out between schoolchildren, the migrant stereotypes current in wider society are reproduced. On the school administration level, the main problem is a lack of adaptation programmes for children of migrants, as well as lessons in Russian as a second language.