Local Chairs vs International Networks: the Beginning of the Scholarly Career in a Peripheral Academic Field
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- Medina, L.R. & Baert, P. Int J Polit Cult Soc (2014) 27: 93. doi:10.1007/s10767-013-9150-y
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Sensitive to the differences between centers and peripheries of knowledge production, this article explores how scholars in peripheral fields use knowledge from central fields to structure their academic careers. The article presents the findings of a case study of career choices of political scientists in Argentina. In order to understand the interplay between foreign knowledge and local strategies of enacting networks, this article focuses on the beginning of academic careers. At this early stage, political scientists in Argentina usually have to make a decision whether to stay in the country or go abroad for postgraduate education. Relying on positioning theory and recent developments in Science and Technology Studies, we identified two alternative positioning strategies. Those who stay in Argentina tend to hoard as many scholarly positions as possible, enacting local networks oriented towards teaching. Scholars who go abroad enact networks with international dimensions, in the process enrolling persons and objects, though not always successfully. Scholars with international experience tend to be research oriented, and they mention the working conditions abroad as particularly attractive. We show the extent to which these findings challenge some views of centers and periphery and highlight the active role of scholars in peripheral scientific fields.