Mobile agency and relational webs in women’s narratives of international study
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AbstractInternationalisation and forced migration are rarely thought about as related phenomena in higher education (HE) literature. Internationalisation is associated with movement, choice and brand recognition, and used in international rankings methodologies as a proxy for quality. Forced migration is associated with movement, but also with lack of choice, containment, or ‘stuckness’. Some scholars have called for a rethinking of ‘the international’ through attention to students as mobile agents, and international study situated within broader mobile lives. Our study responded to these calls through exploring the educational biographies of 37 international and refugee-background women students based in two universities: 21 in New Zealand, and 16 in Bangladesh. Ten of the women were from refugee or refugee-like backgrounds, while the remainder, were international students. The women’s accounts revealed the complex ways in which circumstances shaped their educational journeys similarly and differently. One woman represented mobility in relation to autonomy and choice; but most emphasised relational webs as shaping their access to and experiences of international study, and post-study aspirations. In this paper, we draw on selected narratives to illustrate the range of ways in which family and/or community members appeared in women’s accounts of their education journeys: as a source of (1) sustenance and support; (2) inspiration and motivation; and (3) obligation, and sometimes, regulation. We conclude by suggesting that attention to the affective and embodied entanglements that shape students’ international study journeys might inform new ways of thinking about both ‘the international’ and higher education more broadly.
CitationAnderson, V., Cone, T., Rafferty, R. and Inoue, N., (2021). 'Mobile agency and relational webs in women’s narratives of international study'. Higher Education, pp. 1-17.