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Title: Russian academic emigrants : academic lives disrupted and reconnected
Author: Isaakyan, Irina
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis takes as its starting point the idea of academic mobility, which is present in many policy texts and in discussions of the globalisation of higher education, and subjects that idea to critical scrutiny in the light of the lived experience of academics who have chosen to leave their homelands. In exploring the mobility issue, the particular concepts enable the illumination of academic work and life as disrupted and discontinuous. Discontinuity is related to such concepts as identity and exile, and I use a number of anthropological approaches to reassess the concept of academic career as a life journey that shapes identity through processes that may disrupt as well as advance careers and that corrode as well as affirm identities. The thesis uses biographical methods to explore and understand the experience of Russian academics working in the UK and the USA, who may be understood as living – to some extent – in conditions of exile. These academics left Soviet or early post-Soviet Russia for Universities in the West, and constitute representatives of the international academic diaspora. This example serves to complicate the idea of academic mobility as a straightforward issue in which a global academic market produces opportunities for the free movement of talented labour, and to raise some critical issues about the extent to which this decontextualised vision of academic work is possible. The thesis also attempts to show the enduring effects of early career socialisation on later experiences, and to connect the specific context of Russia and Russian academic traditions to the shaping of the academy in globalising conditions. Finally, the thesis attempts, through the study of particular individuals to add a degree of complexity and human experience to the literature on the globalisation of the academy, which often discusses developments at a very high level of abstraction, that is not sufficiently attentive to difference.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available