Doing race and ethnicity – exploring the lived experience of whiteness at a Danish Public School

Mette Kirstine Tørslev, Marie Louise Nørredam, Kathrine Vitus


This article addresses race and ethnicity as social practices among young students at a Danish public sports school and explores how these practices engage with emotional well-being in the institutional context. The study is based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in two school classes in 2012–2013 using multiple qualitative methods. Taking a phenomenological practice approach, the article addresses how racial (and ethnic) practices affect everyday school life. The analysis shows how a common-sense, habitual background of whiteness positions non-white bodies as different and ‘non-belonging’, thus shaping experiences of being ‘out of place’. These experiences are stressful to students in the study and foster a self-awareness that restrains the body from engaging habitually in the world and that obstructs emotional well-being. The article argues that a reluctance to acknowledge social practices as racial enables everyday racism while blocking the positions available to speak out against ethnic and racial discriminatory experiences.
TidsskriftWhiteness and Education
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)137-148
StatusUdgivet - 2016