Abstract Intersections between transnationalism, the internationalization of higher education, and applied linguistics continue to draw attention, as the proliferation of academic mobility is increasingly influencing students, instructors, and universities globally. As one of the world’s major receiving countries of international postsecondary students, Canada, and its universities, has been similarly impacted. This article presents two informative and contrastive perspectives based on the experiences of two Chinese doctoral students at a large Canadian university. I focus particularly on the students’ national and transnational ideologies, identities, and future outlooks, and how these formative experiences and positionalities shaped their perspectives, goals, and motivations during their study abroad. This research demonstrates how the (transnational) identities of these two students were discursively and iteratively formed based on complex intersections of national and transnational discourses regarding the representations of overseas returnees and the students’ conceptions and co-constructions of the legitimate academic transnational and home. These discursive constructions and enactments in turn had an influential effect on their challenges, desires, and abilities to integrate into local academic discourses and communities. 1. TRANSNATIONALISM, INTERNATIONALIZATION, AND APPLIED LINGUISTICS Transnationalism broadly refers to the various networks, communications, and relationships that connect people and institutions across national borders (Vertovec 2009). In the context of higher education, the concept of transnationalism is frequently connected to internationalization, a process involving student body, faculty, and curricula change; enrolment trends; knowledge conglomeration; push-pull factors impacting globally mobile students and the sending and receiving countries; and the economic, social, and educational consequences (Altbach 2004; Altbach and Knight 2007). Universities generally herald internationalization as a positive example of expanding cultural and academic diversity and welcome (and increasingly depend upon) tuition revenues that can be greater for international students than domestic students. This is particularly true in Canada where international undergraduate students, for example, pay almost 3.5 times more than the tuition of domestic students (Statistics Canada 2016a) and whose population growth has outpaced domestic students exponentially (over fourfold) since the year 2000 (see Table 1). As guiding theoretical constructs, transnationalism and internationalization also provide frames to investigate the individual experiences of students and their access to resources, support, and opportunities that can facilitate second language socialization into social and academic discourses and communities (Friedman 2010; Duff and Anderson 2015). Table 1: Postsecondary student enrolments at Canadian Universities (Statistics Canada 2016b) Category and residency status 2000/2001 2013/2014 Growth (percent) Canadian students 805,422 1,155,555 43 International students 45,735 144,498 216 Category and residency status 2000/2001 2013/2014 Growth (percent) Canadian students 805,422 1,155,555 43 International students 45,735 144,498 216 Table 1: Postsecondary student enrolments at Canadian Universities (Statistics Canada 2016b) Category and residency status 2000/2001 2013/2014 Growth (percent) Canadian students 805,422 1,155,555 43 International students 45,735 144,498 216 Category and residency status 2000/2001 2013/2014 Growth (percent) Canadian students 805,422 1,155,555 43 International students 45,735 144,498 216 It is therefore not surprising that movements of transnational migrants and the ensuing internationalization of discourses, practices, and artifacts have resulted in various intersections with applied linguistics research, including work on race and ethnicity (Block 2010; Li and Duff 2014), gender (Piller and Takahashi 2010; Schneider 2011), identity (Hornberger 2007; Wei and Hua 2013), and social class (Block 2014; O’Regan 2014)—issues separated into distinct themes or categories here but which are often interconnected, including in much of the aforementioned work itself. Sustained focus on topics addressing transnationalism and internationalization within applied linguistics is therefore critical to gain richer and deeper insight into the impacts and integration of globally mobile students in educational settings. Research into the diverse and shifting composition of English-medium universities—a central component of higher education internationalization—will also benefit from additional attention placed on language and literacy issues, since they can be major predictors of English-as-an-additional-language (EAL) student success. The resulting identity-work undertaken by transnational sojourners in higher education contexts is additionally of great importance, a topic explored in the following sections. These issues are similarly important for instructors, departments, and universities that act as gatekeepers to culturally and linguistically diverse students by controlling availability and access to programs that provide academic (language) support, grades, chances to integrate with peers, and other opportunities that can facilitate student success. As De Fina and Perrino (2013: 509) note, ‘[s]ocio-culturally oriented linguistics is going through a period of creative re-definition and profound rethinking that, in our view, constitutes a vital and necessary response to the rapidly changing conditions of our late-modern world’. This study contributes to that important conversation by highlighting the shifting landscape of transnational educational migration and intersections with language and literacy issues. 1.1 Transnational(ized) identities Identity has been frequently discussed and theorized over the past several decades in applied linguistics research (Pavlenko and Blackledge 2004; Norton 2013; Mackey 2015). Through a poststructural frame, identity is widely acknowledged to be a process that is socially constructed and mediated, contested, multiple, and fluid and which represents people’s lived experiences over space and time (Norton Peirce 1995). As people migrate across borders, the process of identity reconstruction may become amplified due to the sometimes drastic social, cultural, and linguistic changes that can occur. On these factors involving transnationalism and identity construction, Vertovec (2001: 578) notes: The experiences gathered in […] multiple habitats accumulate to comprise people’s cultural repertoires, which in turn influence the construction of identity - or indeed multiple identities. Each habitat or locality represents a range of identity-conditioning factors: these include histories and stereotypes of local belonging and exclusion, geographies of cultural difference and class/ethnic segregation, racialised socio-economic hierarchies, degree and type of collective mobilisation, access to and nature of resources, and perceptions and regulations surrounding rights and duties.De Fina and Perrino (2013) similarly emphasize the multiplicity and instability of identity work in transnational contexts, and extend Vertovec’s definition to include the heterogeneity of speech communities, language practices and ideologies, and translanguaging as examples of the identity (re)negotiation transnationals undergo in diverse physical, social, and cultural spaces. Duff (2015: 76) further adds that: Transnationalism is central to current understandings of identity in applied linguistics, which aims to understand increasingly flexible, often digitally mediated forms of citizenship (or noncitizenship) for migrants who may encounter a series of borders, languages, and interim homes, before settling temporarily or permanently in yet another location. The construct of identity therefore remains central to better understand the effects of transnational migration on individual people and their abilities, desires, and opportunities to socialize into their transplanted communities. 1.2 Chinese transnationalism and Canadian higher education The late 1970s marked an important shift in the global mobility of Chinese students predicated by the political, social, and economic reforms following the death of Mao Zedong and what former Premier Zhao Ziyang referred to as the ‘extensive, profound and sustained transformation’ of the country (Barnett 1986: 37). The mass exodus of Chinese academic transnationals, however, began in force in the 1990s, linked closely with the country’s robust economic growth (Li and Bray 2007). China has since become the largest exporter of tertiary students, 46,632 whom were enrolled in Canadian universities as of 2013–14 (OECD 2015; Statistics Canada 2016b), the largest international student population in Canada by a considerable margin. A substantial body of literature dealing with Chinese academic migration to North American postsecondary institutions has focused on the various perceived and reported deficits and challenges that students have adapting to social and academic life and their production of written and oral academic texts (Cheng et al. 2004; Huang and Klinger 2006; Lin and Scherz 2014). Less research has explicitly investigated the identity-work Chinese transnationals undergo and the impact it can have on their participation in English-medium Western academic discourses and communities. One promising avenue of such work includes the uptake and representation of certain discourses related to Chinese academic transnationalism and their influence on socialization. In Mandarin Chinese, haigui (海归) is a multilayered term referring to Chinese international students who have studied abroad and returned to China. Translated literally as ‘overseas returnees’ (and referred to also as the homophone 海龟 [haigui, or ‘sea turtles’] to represent students returning home from long journeys abroad), the term is used to both describe and categorize students into a range of conflicting identity positions. Positive representations frame haigui as risk-taking adventurers with increased social and educational capital, while pejorative descriptions index students’ failure (to succeed abroad), inability to pass the Gaokao1 (China’s college entrance exam), egotism, cultural and social dissonance (with local practices and ideologies), bourgeois cosmopolitanism, and Westernization (Wang et al. 2006; Chen 2011). Feelings of being ostracized, as ‘strangers in their own country’ (Zappa-Hollman 2007: 220), are by no means unique to Chinese returnees, and yet haigui is a term embedded with the broader tensions between Chinese nationalism and the emerging transnational goals of many citizens. This notion of haigui has therefore become especially salient in China and the Chinese academic diaspora, given the large and still rising number of Chinese international postsecondary students globally who seek migration opportunities after graduation or decide to return to China (Chen 2011; Leung 2015). Despite such trends, little research to date has considered the internally and externally reinforced impact of the discourses of haigui on Chinese students’ formation and co-constructions of (legitimate) transnational identities and their abilities and desires to enculturate and adapt academically during their study abroad. By focusing on such issues, the ensuing discussion helps better contextualize the complexities and nuances of educational migration on the trajectories, socialization, and identity renegotiation of international doctoral students. 2 THE STUDY This study was conducted at a research-intensive Canadian university with primary data collection occurring between April 2013 and August 2014 as part of a larger multiple case study investigating the (written) academic discourse socialization of seven Chinese PhD students. A language socialization theoretical framework is utilized to contextualize the academic discourse practices and identity-work of these students. Academic discourse socialization provides a theoretical lens to understand the social, cultural, and linguistic processes involved in students’ enculturation into academic practices, communities, identities, and ideologies, both into and through language (Kobayashi Zappa-Hollman and Duff 2017). By focusing on a limited number of participants, a case study methodology allows phenomena to be investigated in-depth longitudinally and in naturally occurring contexts (Yin 2009). The use of case study in applied linguistics permits for a comprehensive examination of intersecting linguistic, historical, educational, and sociocultural factors involved in language teaching, learning, and use through the combination of complementary, generally qualitative and interpretive, research methods (Duff 2008), including the ones used in this study. The specific data sources include two semi-structured interviews (conducted near the beginning and end of the study) and participant-generated narratives (consisting of self-directed written reflections, responses to guided prompts, and various e-mail-based communications [three from A-Ming and four from Sissy] over the course of the 16-month study period). All data were primarily English language, except where otherwise noted by the use of simplified Chinese characters. Interview and narrative data were both analyzed thematically (Braun and Clarke 2006). Two of the cases in this larger study, A-Ming and Sissy, yielded contrasting and informative perspectives related to their identity formation due to their varied representations of influential and guiding transnational discourses. The following therefore focuses on the impact of these circulating discourses on the academic socialization of these students. 2.1 The participants A-Ming was a first-year male social sciences PhD student at Alia Coast University (ACU)2. Both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees were obtained from separate highly ranked universities in China, known as 985 universities.3 Following completion of his master’s degree, he spent two years at a prestigious US university working as a research assistant in his field before coming to Canada to begin his scholarship-funded PhD in September 2013. His publication record was similarly impressive, given his academic stage, including multiple single- and co-authored journal articles and book chapters in both Chinese and English. He reported being highly motivated to remain abroad and obtain an academic position at a North American university after completing his PhD. Sissy was similarly a social sciences PhD student at ACU and her participation spanned years one to two of her program. Her postsecondary education prior to her doctorate was completed in China before coming to ACU in September 2012. Both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees were from the same 985 university in China. At the study’s completion, Sissy had successfully published one article and one conference proceeding, both written in Chinese, and had a single conference presentation prior to her PhD program. Although Sissy was a self-described high-achieving student in China, she reported experiencing a difficult transition during her first year in Canada. 3 THE SHAPING OF TRANSNATIONAL IDENTITIES Three prevalent and recurring themes related to the effects of transnational discourses on socialization were generated from the coding and thematic analysis of A-Ming and Sissy’s interview and narrative data sets: the discursive representation of haigui (overseas returnees to China), the framing of legitimate transnationalism, and their representations of home. The different ways each person enacted and represented these discourses subsequently impacted their transnational identity formation and willingness or ability to integrate into their Canadian academic communities and discourses. 3.1 Discursive representations of haigui As noted, haigui is a complex and contentious term. This notion of haigui and the meanings it indexes were originally introduced by A-Ming during our second interview in May 2014. As demonstrated below, A-Ming and Sissy contrastingly represent the term’s complexity, with Sissy acknowledging the potential negative perceptions of returning haigui, yet actively choosing to embrace and positively frame the concept (and trajectory). A-Ming on the other hand represents and reinforces a much more critical interpretation, which characterizes overseas returnees to China as failures or ‘losers’ who return home out of necessity instead of active choice. A-Ming’s decision to initially leave China and his desire to remain abroad following his PhD appears to be strongly related to his reluctance to stay in China long term. This was shaped by several intersecting sub-themes related to his view of aspects of Chinese society and Chinese nationalism, various transnational and cosmopolitan discourses, and his perceptions of academic nepotism and favoritism, which he felt would limit his opportunities to succeed as an emerging scholar in China. He describes returning academic sojourners to China (haigui) as people who could not succeed overseas and repatriate only out of necessity—a perception in line with a prevalent narrative that negatively represents some Chinese student returnees as lacking talent, ability, and knowledge of local systems (Guo 2009; Chen 2011; ‘Plight of the Sea Turtles’ 2013). This critical framing of haigui represents a growing public perception that recent returnees are less skilled and qualified (and subsequently less advantaged) than previous generations of academic sojourners in the 1980s and 1990s who were considered more deserving and who encountered greater obstacles getting admitted to foreign universities and succeeding while abroad (Chen 2011). There is therefore a rising perception that nationally educated and trained students may be preferred within Chinese labor markets due to their knowledge of local systems and customs, consumption patterns, and technology. The stance that ‘Even as hordes of less employable expatriates return, the brightest remain abroad’ (‘Plight of the Sea Turtles’ 2013: para. 10) exemplifies how some returning students are publicly represented and positioned into certain identity categories, whether deserving or not, including by leading international English news-magazines like The Economist (‘Plight of the Sea Turtles’ 2013). This can subsequently become a powerful narrative preventing potential returnees from repatriating to China based on the desire to escape unfair portrayals of who they think they are, or of their self-perceived skills and abilities, and their personal agency to succeed. The previously valued haigui have therefore been transformed into haidai (—‘seaweed’): returnees who are unemployable and lack upward mobility that ‘float’ like seaweed in the water instead of actively swimming ashore like their haigui (‘sea turtle’) predecessors (Zweig and Han 2008). Aligning closely with such narratives, A-Ming articulated his extreme reluctance to return to China following his program at ACU, citing the negative image of returning PhDs within China and his strong desire not to become one. The following excerpt occurred in our second interview during a discussion about a series of narrative prompts I had recently sent out. One of these prompts (included below) referenced Vanessa Fong’s (2011) ethnographic work with transnational Chinese students that reported on their self-described motivations to return to China after graduation to repay the ‘motherland’, or what Lai (2015) refers to as the ‘serving China’ discourse. Fong (2011) also notes in her study that her Chinese international students often cited: ‘好好学习, 报效祖国4’. Do you feel a broader obligation to return to China someday to ‘repay’ your home country and help with its economic, social, cultural (etc.) growth? Why or why not? (Narrative prompt, 22 April 2014) A-Ming’s response to this prompt was, at the time, quite terse. He replied: ‘I would argue Fong knows nothing about Chinese international students’ (Narrative, 23 April 2014). He fortuitously brought up this issue and Fong’s claim again during our final interview and expanded his thoughts in greater detail. It was during the course of that discussion (regarding his feeling about Fong’s claim) when he first introduced the term haigui: It is just when you get back, like Chinese students, when you get back you are nothing actually. If you, like in China, that is kind of a culture. If you are a people, like from, we call, haigui, like finish your study here and came back to China, when people see you, you are just like a failure, a loser in Western countries. Like you are coming back because you cannot stay here [in the West], so you are kind of a loser. So people in China will just kind of look down upon you. You are a haigui or something. They are laughing at you sometimes like you are kind of a loser. So even if you are not a loser, you’ll think like you cannot get a good position, like higher level like position in China. You cannot change anything. So you need like social networks those kind things or like family background to get into political system or like education system. (Second Interview, 2 May 2014) Following this discussion with A-Ming, I decided to gauge other students’ reaction to this haigui term and the role, if any, it had in their decisions to remain abroad after graduation or return to China. Sissy’s response (shown below) discusses her representation of haigui, differing considerably from A-Ming’s, and highlights some of its underlying connotations, including the class and privilege undertones of Western-educated returnees to China or their potential disconnect with local (Chinese) knowledge and practices. She chooses primarily to focus on the positive aspects that being haigui entails, according to her own definition of the concept. I know for some people, ‘haigui’ is a negative word. I think somehow it is also partly based on a sense of envy of those people who call us ‘haigui’. […] However, I would like to say generally ‘haigui’ is still a positive word, if we didn’t care too much about the social consensus but value the better job and social status that the qualification of a ‘haigui’ could win for us, relative to that in the Western world. (Email, 13 August 2014) Although recognizing the critical perceptions some Western-educated haigui might encounter when they return, Sissy presents a much more balanced (and also self-serving) representation of the term compared to A-Ming, discussing both positive and negative connotations, and how she herself is implicated in being part of this haigui group. Adding to the complexity of how they accept, embrace, or disdain this label of haigui, both make clear distinctions between the ways PhD returnees are perceived in China versus undergraduate students (for A-Ming, discussed in the following section) and master’s students (for Sissy). While Sissy acknowledges the negative connotations of haigui, outlined below, she insulates herself from any pejorative labeling by claiming the term applies primarily to master’s level students, whose degrees lack practical application, as opposed to returning PhD graduates whose skills and qualifications are more valued, practical, and sought-after. The last issue that may be taken into consideration is that for a master student ‘haigui’ in China is more possibly a negative label than that for a Ph.D. student. The Chinese think a Western master qualification is simply a qualification without representing either practical skills (except Language) or high academic capability. Chinese master education is more similar to the vocational education. (Email, 13 August 2014) Sissy’s own future plans—to return and live in China following completion of her Canadian PhD—seem influential in her distinguishing between master’s and PhD returnees and which group is more susceptible to becoming the negatively viewed haigui. Sissy also frames her stance as being objective and neutral (and universally held) by stating this opinion is one of ‘The Chinese’ instead of being her own subjective interpretation. A-Ming similarly distinguished between returning students to China according to education levels, but his distinction delineates between undergraduate and graduate students, with the label of haigui being less applicable for returning undergraduate students. The term, he argues, is more problematic for graduate-level students because, unlike undergraduate students who he claims almost uniformly come from wealthy and socially connected families, graduate students have less financial and social privilege and therefore possess few social, political, or professional connections back home. This notion is expanded in the following section where this issue is linked to A-Ming’s constructions of legitimate academic transnationalism and the applicability of a haigui positionality according to education level. 3.2 Constructing the legitimate Chinese transnational The distinction between Chinese undergraduate and graduate students was a focal point in my discussion of haigui with A-Ming. As noted, haigui was a concept that was introduced by A-Ming and was a term that I was not familiar with up to that point but which became an important part of that interview in illustrating his reluctance to return to China after graduation. As illustrated below, A-Ming constructs clear divisions of academic transnational legitimacy depending on students’ educational level, not dissimilar to Sissy’s opinion that master’s students are more susceptible to the label of haigui due to the nature of their degrees as ‘simply a qualification’ to improve their resume but which lack any practical or marketable value in China. According to A-Ming, Chinese undergraduate students pursue study abroad opportunities primarily due to their families’ wealth, their superficial desires to travel and adventure abroad, and an inability to pass the Gaokao (thereby prohibiting their enrollments in top public Chinese universities). This is in contrast to graduate students, he asserts, who are more deserving and legitimate academic transnationals who are able to pursue international education opportunities due to talent and hardwork (as opposed to their wealthy and socially connected, presumably undeserving, undergraduate counterparts). During a discussion about an article A-Ming had recently published in ACU’s student newspaper addressing the possibility of Chinese students bringing democratic values home when they returned to China, I asked him about the technical differences between writing a newspaper text compared to other types of academic texts. His lengthy response eventually returned to the broad topic of his article and the varied composition of Chinese international students and their possible motivations for undertaking study abroad in the first place: The situation here is like, there are two types of Chinese students outside China. One is kind of like undergraduate people, the other is graduate people. Undergraduate people, they are young. Like the reason they go to another country to further their studies, just because they cannot get into good universities back in China. So most of these undergraduate people they are from rich families in China, like the corruption family, the business family, and then most of them they are like, they are not the top students […] So these people, of course they are rich, they have a lot of money, so they will find some like, in Chinese, zhongjie [中介]5 […] This kind of company they charge a lot of money from the students and they write all the application stuff and make a lot of cheating things like grades and stuff. […] Most people, I would say like 80 per cent people, they are from rich families and they just want to spend their money here. (Second Interview, 2 May 2014) These strong opinions and generalizations—that 80 per cent of international Chinese undergraduate students are from wealthy families and study abroad only because they cannot attend ‘good’ domestic universities—are in contradiction to Fong’s (2011) longitudinal work on Chinese undergraduate students, as noted above, that claimed many of her participants felt a moral responsibility to return to China after graduating, citing a sense of filial nationalism and duty to the country. When I asked A-Ming about Fong’s claims, and the possibility that returning students feel a need to serve China, he responded: [Fong argues] They want to like return, pay back to China and that’s not true actually. […] It’s just because they are rich. This is undergraduate people, so these people have no idea about returning or paying back after the university stuff like that. They just have no choice. And graduate people, they are doing master’s or PhD here and they are maybe working very hard like me. (Second Interview, 2 May 2014) A few important issues outlining A-Ming’s framing of Chinese academic transnationals are evident in the above interview extracts: (i) undergraduate students who claim to return to China due to obligations to repay their homeland do so (according to him) only because they cannot remain abroad, even if they would prefer to, and (ii) these students went abroad in the first place primarily because their families are rich and due to their inability to enroll in decent Chinese universities, and not because they are deserving and hardworking students. Graduate students (like A-Ming), on the other hand, have earned their places due to hardwork and perseverance and are therefore more legitimate academic transnationals than undergraduate students. He goes on to state: So like for me, for a lot of graduate students, they are from like low-level poor rural areas and stuff. So these types of people, education is the only way they can change themselves, move up or, yeah, so education. So you want to get a better education and you are working very hard to go to Western countries. And after your education, you don’t want to go back because like opportunities is not good back in China. (Second Interview, 2 May 2014) According to A-Ming, not only are graduate students harder workers and more deserving but they also face daunting futures back home compared to their more privileged undergraduate counterparts. He further specifies that graduate students, like himself, not only deserve to be abroad more than undergraduate students, but they need to remain there after graduation because they will not be able to attain equal opportunities to succeed back home, since they are from ‘low level poor rural areas’ with few professional and social connections. His transnational identity formation, partly achieved through his socialization into Canadian academic discourses and communities, is therefore necessary to ensure he does not return to China. Considering the broader trends of internationally educated Chinese graduate students, A-Ming does not appear to be alone in this thinking. US-educated Chinese PhD students, for example, have extremely low repatriation rates following their programs. Finn’s (2014) investigation into the ‘stay rates’ of foreign science and engineering students at American universities found Chinese students not only comprised the largest foreign PhD population studying in the USA but also had the second highest five-year stay rate after receiving their doctorates, with 85 per cent of students remaining in the country following graduation. Only Iranian students, at 92 per cent, represented a higher rate of non-return. These trends may be partly explained by the stigmatization that PhD students face (according to A-Ming) if they cannot succeed and remain abroad, unlike returning undergraduate students who are more sheltered or even exempt from pejorative haigui or haidai labeling. Considering the ongoing identity-work of A-Ming and Sissy is also important here. Both construct and represent their identities (e.g. as ‘Chinese’ and international students, for example) in affiliation or opposition to particular types of (constructed) groups which might influence their perceptions and decisions, aligning with ‘the Chinese’ (in Sissy’s case) or hardworking ‘poor’ graduate students with daunting futures in China (for A-Ming). The influence of the haigui discourse and identity work of both—and alignment or misalignment with various groups—prove to be highly influential for both in their experiences, trajectories, and motivations. 3.3 ‘The flowing space’: nationalism, transnationalism, and representations of home A prevailing theme of international students’ reported study abroad experiences is a sense of instability and alienation, as they migrate from their home countries across borders for varying periods of time, leaving personal and professional networks to encounter new ones in processes often mediated in second (or additional) languages and cultures with differing sets of expectations, customs, norms, and practices (Andrade 2006). For both Sissy and A-Ming, uprooting their lives in China and moving to North America involved similar upheaval, but these experiences were shaped and expressed quite differently by each of them. A-Ming embraced living in this transnational ‘flowing space’, while Sissy felt unhinged and alone as a recent sojourner in Canada, perceptions not only demonstrative of their PhD experiences to that point but which also reflected their planned future trajectories following their programs. When I asked Sissy about her sense of belonging at ACU, and whether she felt more at home in Canada or in China, she responded: Belong? I have to say no. Until now I haven’t felt the belonging here. Maybe two years is a short time and also it’s because I don’t think people here, the global people, international people, need another belonging, sense of belonging, because they are very flowing, they live in the flowing space. So maybe it’s not a kind of… they don’t care about a kind of belonging, they just care about more things, for example, the personal achievement and the kind of horizon, expand in the horizon. So this is a different lifestyle. So if you ask me I think belonging, yes, China gives a big sense of belonging. (Second Interview, 30 April 2014) Sissy categorizes other non-Canadians at ACU as ‘the global people’ who do not need to fit in or belong because they already belong elsewhere, like Sissy herself, who is also one of these ‘global people’ and who ultimately belongs in China. Her representation of living in a ‘flowing space’ can be informed by Ong’s (1999) construct of ‘flexible citizenship’—transnationals who experience ‘reverse, circular, or serial migration’ (Duff 2015: 67)—as well as unstable or shifting identity negotiation during those movements across different spaces, languages, and cultures. In Sissy’s case, her sense of belonging in Canada and ACU, or lack thereof (and the resulting alignment with her constructed group of transient, career-minded ‘global people’), is in part a reflection of her own self-reported experiences of feeling alienated within her department and the university across a variety of social, cultural, and academic domains. Living in this ‘flowing space’ therefore precluded her socialization into her local academic communities and their practices, a decision she represented as being inevitable due to the instability of being an international student as well as one representative of other ‘global people’ like her. In this sense, also, the prospects of eventually becoming haigui may have been preferable to her current feelings of isolation at ACU. A-Ming similarly represents living in his transnational space as being a fluid and mobile process. Unlike Sissy, however, who feels unsettled and alienated by this fluidity, A-Ming believes that ‘home’ is a self-defined concept that lacks a unitary and fixed physical location, and he is ‘okay’ with this sense of instability. In an interview, he stated: Like for me, I have no concept of home. Home can be everywhere, like I am okay. (Second Interview, 2 May 2014) A-Ming’s perception of ‘home’ on the surface bears similarity with Sissy’s concept of ‘the flowing space’; however, both experienced upheaval that impacted them quite differently. A-Ming, unlike Sissy, embraces the notion of being uprooted (from China) and becoming a highly educated and mobile transnational cosmopolitan—a process that appears to better facilitate his socialization into his ACU community. His commitment to remain abroad even resulted in a strategic (epistemological and methodological) shift in his research approach from his qualitatively focused master’s research to a quantitative approach, which he was using for his PhD—a shift predicated in part by feeling more ‘confident’ writing quantitative reports, but for another important reason as well. During a general discussion about his academic writing and overall progress to date, A-Ming discussed this change following his master’s and into his PhD: Author: So why did you make that switch from qualitative to quantitative? A-Ming: I am good at the quantitative stuff, mathematical. And more, for actually, for more international students—not every international students—especially from people from China, most professors if you noticed, social science, like the only way like I stay here, like not going back to other, not go back to China, is because they are good at quantitative things. […] So I want to be like… it’s more likely to get a position here if you know how to do good quantitative research. (Second Interview, 2 May 2014) This formative decision is an important representation of A-Ming’s broader socialization experiences during his time abroad. His strategic repositioning from doing qualitative to quantitative research demonstrates instances of both internal and external socialization into the preferred (by his estimation) research practices of successful Chinese scholars in North America. His transnational identity, shaped in part by this socialization into these North American academic discourses and communities, forms an important component to ensure he does not become haigui, including changing his methodological focus to align more closely with his Western contemporaries and other successful Chinese academics who have remained in North America. 4 CONCLUDING COMMENTS The discursive (re)productions of haigui embedded in the broader discourses of international student transnationalism impacted A-Ming and Sissy’s integration into their respective academic discourses and communities to varying degrees of success. Both embraced, reflected, and constructed different threads of national and transnational discourses to reinforce their own interpretations, identities, and future plans. Their representations of haigui reveal not only broader national and transnational ideologies in China regarding educational migration (cf. Guo 2009; Chen 2011), and discourses about China (nepotism; status of elite families; corruption) but also the active heuristic constructions of haigui based on their past and current experiences (as international students, transnationals, multilinguals, emerging academics, ‘Chinese’), future plans, and their own epistemological and ontological stances constructed within their respective social and academic domains. Both also aligned with narratives that are understandably self-serving. Sissy’s representation of a more balanced and even positive interpretation of haigui is what enables her to imagine her future plan to return; it may also be a reflection of her awareness of likely becoming one in the near future—a rationalization of self-preservation and face-saving. Ultimately, however, her framing of the term and its applicability or inapplicability to herself are somewhat contradictory. Despite defining and representing what haigui could possibly mean for some people (both positively and negatively), she still emphasized that it is a term most applicable to master’s students whose lack of in-depth skills make them more susceptible to being negatively categorized. Since she is not one of these master’s students, she is therefore in no danger of becoming a negatively perceived haigui once she returns. She also frequently positioned her stance as representing a collective ‘Chinese’ voice to legitimize and strengthen her personal opinions. In so doing she lessens her own culpability in the delegitimization of those lesser-qualified master’s returnees and the possibility of herself becoming the ‘looked down upon’ type of haigui that she distances herself from. Sissy’s representation of haigui and decision to return may also be influenced by various other factors, including, she reported, a preference to remain close to her family and loved ones and her more static and nationalistic conception of ‘home’ and how she ‘belongs’ there. It is also possible (evidenced by her self-reported academic writing challenges) that she might struggle locating opportunities for a desirable academic position in the competitive English-speaking West amidst the glut of qualified first-language or highly proficient English-speaking academics that are available and competing for those jobs. A-Ming, in contrast, exclusively emphasizes the negative elements of haigui and its sole applicability to returning (and more ‘legitimate’) graduate students, a group which he is potentially part of, and which he does not want to be associated with. As highlighted in the above interview data, there is also an expressed cultural and social dissonance with various Chinese practices and ideologies that can explain his thought process. Foreign-trained graduate students, A-Ming claims, ‘are nothing’ if they return due to engrained social hierarchies of privileged and wealthy elites, academic nepotism, and, as shown below, jealousy toward talented junior (foreign-educated) scholars: I can’t go back. I think it’s easy for me to get a top, like a tenure job at a university, Peking University, in Tsinghua University, is not hard. (Second Interview, 2 May 2014) I then asked him why he felt he could not return to China after his PhD, even if to a highly ranked and prestigious university: Yeah, academic environment and a hierarchal structure. Like, like you are young professors and just the old people they just don’t like you. If you have more talent they hate you more. I don’t know, it is kind of a weird culture. (Second Interview, 2 May 2014) These perceived constraints on his future opportunities and upward academic and social mobility are powerful drivers for A-Ming, and were strong factors influencing his fluid conceptualization of ‘home’ and desire to fit in and ultimately thrive in Western academic contexts, including his methodological research shift in hopes to be better positioned in the North American job market. It appears, therefore, that his socialization was impacted and motivated both by his prior beliefs about academic life in China as much as by his current study-abroad experiences in Canada. There are also broader issues to consider. The tenuous and ambiguous relationship between national interests and transnational influences in China is nothing new, including the role of English and its impact on education, politics, and society (Adamson 2002; Pan and Block 2011). Gao (2009: 84) notes the historical tensions of English language learning in the country and whether this foreign influence ‘reduces the national self-esteem of the Chinese’ and ‘reveals a Chinese national characteristic of self-despising’ by accepting and embracing Western culture. The ironic underpinnings in the construction of these ‘transnational Chinese subjects’ (Chen 2011) is that, as China itself has internationalized, and allowed and even encouraged its citizens to learn English and study abroad, the way academic sojourners are treated upon return is rife with contradictions. On the one hand, China has opened its doors, allowing the inflow and outflow of people, while on the other has sought to reinforce the purity of a unified Chinese identity over more global or transnational ones. This can place returning sojourners in uncomfortable positions: to embrace the ‘serving China’ discourse at the risk of being marginalized, or attempt to remain abroad to avoid it. A-Ming and Sissy’s experiences highlight these very salient contradictions and complications. Both similarly represent themselves as transnational academic sojourners in fluid and somewhat unstable terms, but for different purposes and to much different effect. Sissy’s metaphor of the transnational ‘flowing space’ is used to describe why she and other ‘global people’ are not able or willing to form close connections or integrate fully in local environments. Since these ‘global people’ already belong elsewhere, they cannot and do not belong in their temporary academic spaces at ACU (and elsewhere). Feeling marginalized subsequently magnified her own marginalization within her department as she positioned herself and other international students into narrow identity categories (as marginalized others) based on her own challenges adapting and succeeding during her first two years in Canada. In so doing, it provided a defense mechanism for Sissy to convince herself that feeling alienated within her department and university was not only acceptable, but normal for all transnational students who cohabitate the flowing space, floating without stability just like her. Living in this space therefore becomes her anti-home of sorts—a temporary destination until she can go back to her real home in China. Returning to Ong’s (1999) notion of flexible citizenship can help contextualize Sissy’s case. Flexible citizenship is the transnational embodiment and enactment of the flexible subject (Ong 1999), where people traverse regions and countries for different purposes and timescales and can take on different identities along the way. The degrees to which that flexibility can be exercised, however, largely depends on the intersection of varied and complex factors, including individual motivations, efforts and abilities (including linguistic ones), opportunities, personal and professional networks, degrees of independence, and ideological orientations. In Sissy’s case, she was markedly constrained by many of these factors (and was therefore rendered somewhat inflexible) compared to A-Ming, and these constraints had an influence on her access to resources and socialization opportunities and (at the time) perceived academic success. Indeed, as Matthews and Sidhu (2005: 49) note, ‘the economic, political and cultural changes associated with globalisation do not automatically give rise to globally oriented and supra-territorial forms of subjectivity’. This appears to have been a contributing cause in Sissy’s dispreference toward or inability to enact a flexible transnational subject position that could have ultimately contributed to her abilities and desires to socialize and be socialized into her academic discourses and communities at ACU. A-Ming, on the other hand, embraced this sense of transnationality much more fervently than did Sissy. He was the only participant in the larger study of seven students to use an English name in his daily life in Canada. While little may be drawn from this decision in and of itself, it can serve as an analogy for his strong alignment with a transnational identity and, in a sense, a misalignment with a Chinese one. I asked A-Ming about how he perceived or represented himself, as ‘Chinese’ or a ‘global citizen’, and he responded: I think more like a global citizen, like I am okay. I’m a Chinese right but I don’t… like some people when they introduce themselves in the public, they will ‘I am Chinese’ or stuff. Usually I don’t say that. I’m just a people. I usually don’t say I am Chinese or I am from China. If you ask me where are you from? Yeah I am from China. But if, like introduction, some people in the classroom would say, oh you are from China, but I usually don’t say that. (Second Interview, 2 May 2014) A-Ming expressed feeling comfortable and at home in Canada, and he embraced and relished a future as an international scholar. He also made strategic research decisions to facilitate his planned academic trajectory and drew on his prior academic resources to make deft use of new opportunities to enable socialization into his current and future academic communities—decisions especially important due to his reported lack of social resources (‘networks’) required to succeed back in China. This flexibility in terms of aligning with a more globally minded identity over a strongly (Chinese) nationalistic one enhanced his ability to adapt to his surroundings, which in turn impacted his feeling at ‘home’ in Canada (or anywhere) despite being away from his country of citizenship and family, and researching, writing, and communicating primarily in English. As Duff (2015: 59) notes, international mobility ‘can lead to language shift to new languages, and, possibly through that process, as one scenario, to cosmopolitan, multifaceted, and multilingual or syncretic (hybrid) identities’, which appears to have been the case with A-Ming in particular. If we consider the ‘transnational practices and imaginings of the nomadic subject’ (Ong 1999: 3, emphasis original) in reference to A-Ming, he not only practiced what he felt was necessary (influenced by the trajectories of Chinese academics in his field) for his success at ACU (e.g. doing quantitative research) but he imagined and enacted discourses and identities that helped to facilitate it. In many ways, it seems, the opposite could be argued for Sissy. A-Ming and Sissy’s representations of their transnational selves, as members of a global (academic) diaspora of Chinese citizens who may or may not return, suggest that identity construction and opportunity, or at least perceptions of opportunity, are mutually generative. A-Ming, by fearing haigui and embracing transnational fluidity, was highly motivated to remain abroad. Sissy considered her transnational space as one that lacked stability and impacted her ability to form closer and more meaningful connections with others; practices which were at odds with her values as a ‘Chinese’ that she aligned closely with. In so doing, it appears to have adversely affected her own ability to embrace a transnational identity that may have better facilitated her integration into local discourses and communities. 5 FINAL THOUGHTS This article has addressed the role, enactment, and (re)productions of various transnational discourses in A-Ming and Sissy’s academic socialization. Showcasing these two illustrative cases highlights the complex nature of socialization and the importance of considering and contextualizing the extensive web of external and internal factors that contribute to that socialization (see also Anderson 2016, 2017). I have hoped to highlight the important influence certain national and transnational discourses can have on EAL students during study-abroad experiences. For PhD students who are involved and immersed in highly demanding environments with high-stakes outcomes, these issues are of particular importance, given their unstable and largely unpredictable futures in today’s competitive academic job market. Additional research can consider similar issues related to the transnational ideologies of students (and those circulating in the media and broader society) and how these ideologies can influence academic socialization, particularly given the large and ever-growing number of international postsecondary students worldwide. Tim Anderson is an Assistant Professor of Additional Language Learning in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Victoria, Canada. His research addresses issues related to L2 writing and socialization, the internationalization of higher education, and transnationalism. He has recent publications in Linguistic and Education, Global Chinese, The Cambridge Guide to Research in Language Learning and Teaching, and The Handbook of Classroom Discourse and Interaction. Address for correspondence: Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Victoria, MacLaurin Building, Room A541, 3800 Finnerty Road (Ring Road), Victoria, BC, V8P 5C2, Canada. <firstname.lastname@example.org> NOTES 1 The Gaokao, China’s high-stakes college entrance exam, is an abbreviated form of: 普通高等学校招生全国统一考试 (‘The National Higher Education Entrance Examination’). 2 To maintain anonymity, the participants’ department affiliations have been excluded and pseudonyms are used for both students as well as the university they attended. 3 Chinese ‘985 universities’ refers to universities affected by the Chinese government’s ‘985 project’ announced in May 1998 (98/5) which infused large amounts of financial capital into targeted Chinese universities to improve infrastructure, research capacities, stature, and reputation. 4 Haohao xuexi, baoxiao zuguo (‘Study hard and serve the motherland’). 5 Education agent. 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Applied Linguistics – Oxford University Press
Published: Jul 25, 2017
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