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Layal Wiltgren


Master's degree in Psychology and a Bachelor's degree Social Anthropology.

Research Interests

Constructions of identity and ethnicity among youth.


Ethnicity, identity, youth,categorization, positioning, multilingualism, nationality, Swedishness, humour, laughter, interaction, symbols, ethnic constructions


Post doc project (Current)

High-performing immigrant youth: identity and success strategies

The project is headed by Layal Kasselias Wiltgren, and financed by FORTE, with Layal Wiltgren as sole applicant.


This ongoing post doc project investigates success strategies in conjunction with identity among high performing students from high income, immigrant families. The medial and political debate over integration tends to focus on matters of inclusions and exclusions and disregard class background as an explanation to social inequality amongst immigrants, and students with immigrant backgrounds are often associated with so called segregated residential areas in stigmatized suburban schools. In contrast, this study intends to investigate how high performing students with immigrant backgrounds express identity, class, place and gender.

The method envisioned is participant observation, including audio recordings and interviews with hight performing students, their teachers and school leaders. The main focus will be on success strategies in association with language styles the students employ and how they handle ethnical differences. The study also focus on notions of Swedishness, how it is articulated and how the students' immigrant background is talked about by teachers and fellow students.


Sample project questions:

  • How to students express and stage ethnicity, class and local affiliation in high-prestige schools?
  • What social strategies, including language, do the students use in relation to their ethnic backgrounds?
  • What views of Swedishness and non-Swedishness are expressed and actualized?
  • How are the students backgrounds brought to attention by teachers and peers?


The method is field work and interviews with students, teachers and school leaders.

The informants are high-performing students attending schools not defined by segregation and socioeconomic problems.

Phd project (published in 2014)

Based on one year of fieldwork in a junior high school on the outskirts of Stockholm, this thesis examines how young people interact and express ethnicity, nationality and multilingualism in everyday interaction. The study focuses on how young people with the experience of migration, either themselves or within their families, creatively express, and thereby create, ethnicity in their everyday lives. The focus is on the students’ own actions and their discussions surrounding ethnicities and how ethnic categories are filled with meanings. The analyses are based on participant observations and field notes, as well as more than 300 hours of audio recordings and transcriptions. The analyses highlight how young people use multilingualism and ethnical categories as resources and how they use laughter, humour, teasing interaction and self-irony to both challenge and strengthen each other as well as to establish and manifest communities. Local categorizations such as "Svenne" and "Import" are used to define both their peers and the Other. Swedishness is a prevalent norm, but it is open to positioning and negotiation. One of the social rules among the students concerns being proud of your background – pride that can be expressed both verbally and visually – for example, by wearing ethnic and national symbols to highlight belonging. Ethnic categories are not rigid in the students’ social interactions. Rather they are fluid and changeable, something that Stuart Hall refers to as new ethnicities, which are locally created and related to diversity. The analyses show that ethnicity, like other categories of identity, is not a thing that people are born with, but rather something that is staged and used as a resource in everyday social interaction. This study highlights how these categories are accomplished in action.



Lecture Topics

Anthropology, Gender, psychology, Ethnicity.




  • Publikationerbarn bar


  • Wiltgren, Layal Kasselias. 2016. Doing Ethnicity: Ethnic Wordplay amongst Youths. Childhood

  • Wiltgren, Layal Kasselias. 2016. Etnicitet som resurs i skolan. Lund: studentlitteratur

  • Wiltgren, Layal Kasselias. 2014. STOLT!: Om ungdomar, etniciteter och gemenskaper. Linköping Studies in Arts and Science; 622 (Diss)

  • Wiltgren, Layal Kasselias. 2014. Youth using national symbols in constructing identities. Journal of Youth Studies 17, (3): 308-323.

  • Wiltgren, Layal Kasselias. 2014. Import: Ungdomar skapar etniska kategoriseringar. Barn: Forskning om barn och barndom i Norden (4): 31-46

  • Wiltgren, Layal Kasselias. 2013. Flerspråkighet som tillgång. I Maren Bak, Kerstin von Brömssen (red.) Barndom & migration. Umeå: Boréa.child

  • Wiltgren, Layal Kasselias. 2012. STOLT!: Regeln om att försvara sin bakgrund. Locus 24, (4): 76-88.



Telephone: 013-28 57 47
Fax: 013-28 29 00

E-mail: layal.wiltgren@liu.se

Department of Thematic Studies -
Child Studies
Linköping university
SE-581 83 Linköping


About Child studies

Child Studies is an interdisciplinary research unit focusing on issues regarding children, childhood and family in history and society. Education in Child Studies: under graduate level, master level, graduate level (Ph.D).

About Tema

The objective for Tema - The Department of Thematic Studies is to pursue excellent research and education at undergraduate and advanced levels relevant to society.

Child Studies
Gender Studies
Technology and social change
Environmental Change

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Last updated: Mon Jan 23 21:16:35 CET 2017