Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

"Stuck in Their Skin?": Challenges of Identity Construction Among Children with Mixed Heritage in Norway

Published Web Location

This article, based in social anthropology, discusses challenges of ethnic identity construction among children and youth of immigrant origin in Norway, particularly those of mixed race. Compared to the United States, Norway has a short history of people of color immigrating. Since the Second World War, Norwegian official policy has underlined that “we are all equal” and “have the same worth,” regardless of gender, sexuality, and skin color. A color-blind ideology has been an ideal. Today, second- and third-generation immigrants speak Norwegian fluently and have good jobs in the public eye, including in radio and TV, and thus are often publicly exposed, but are still classified as “foreigners” because of their appearance. The article shows that the cultural schema/model of Norwegian identity includes white skin color only, which children of mixed race may experience as particularly challenging. They have one foot in White identity and the other in a colored one, and they may feel “White” on the inside but be labeled as “foreigner” (“Black”) by others. The article asks how children and young people of mixed-race origins experience ethnic identity construction in light of the categories “Norwegian” and “foreigner” and how this is to be understood. The overall conclusion is that mixed-race children and youth may experience being “stuck in their skin” more strongly than those with two parents of immigrant origin, because they also identify with the parent of White ethnic Norwegian identity. The article also concludes that Norway, as an “underdeveloped” country regarding racial reflexivity, needs more research on how White privilege results in “making up people” through racial hierarchical categories, understood as resistance strategies to White majority power and color-blind ideology.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View