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Conceptualizing the discourse of student mobility between “periphery” and “semi-periphery”: the case of Africa and China


China is now the second most popular destination country for African international students. This paper investigates the discourse surrounding this emergent flow of students, and the main aim is to offer a new means to conceptualize mobility between non-Western nations. The article highlights weaknesses in current postcolonial conceptualizations of student mobility. A key contribution to the literature on international student mobility is that it extends and adapts existing work on the unequal and asymmetrical nature of international student mobility by drawing on the concept of semi-peripheral (post)coloniality, to examine how specific modes of integration into the “world-system” result in particular discursive formations around international student mobility. The main argument is that relative structural positions between the sending region and receiving country are mirrored in discourse around international student mobility, which contains examples of civilizational paternalism and pursuit of pragmatic foreign policy goals.

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Mulvey, B. Conceptualizing the discourse of student mobility between “periphery” and “semi-periphery”: the case of Africa and China. High Educ 81, 437–451 (2021).

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  • International student mobility
  • Globalization
  • China
  • Africa
  • Discourse
  • Postcolonialism