Even though Iceland is yet to host as many refugees as other European countries, the number of young refugees seeking resettlement is growing rapidly. Little Icelandic research has been devoted to refugee youth and their social or educational inclusion to date. This study focuses on how young refugees are represented in the Icelandic context in relation to often-conflicting ideological perspectives of advanced neo-liberal discourses and ‘liberal’ multicultural approaches of inclusion. We analyse policy documents which address refugee integration, alongside teachers’ perspectives on current challenges facing refugee youth to account for these conflicts. We are interested in how these documents and perspectives respond to Hannah Arendt’s concern over statelessness–the condition of not being recognised as a citizen within a host state. Findings indicate that outside of policy directly aimed at refugees there is general legislative and regulatory silence on refugee youth. Within the two documents analysed, we argue that normative multicultural frameworks are being drawn upon as an ‘integration practice’ which emphasise sameness and equality in contrast to diversity and equity. Such practices reinforce normative understandings of citizenship and national metaphors of inclusion whilst simultaneously undermining what Arendt refers to as the ‘promise of politics’ in education policy and practice.

DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2019.1707306
ISSN: 1360-3116