China with ‘Foreign Talent’ Characteristics: A ‘Guerrilla’ Autoethnography of Performing ‘Foreign Talentness’ in a Chinese University

  • Lauren Ila Misiaszek
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Gender and Education book series (GED)


In this chapter, I will develop an autoethnography about my experience as (along with my male partner) the first full-time foreign education faculty in China’s Normal (teacher training) system, working in a highly diverse program for international students. While I will discuss its discomforts and risks, I nonetheless find autoethnography to be an important tool in the development of a critical sociology of higher education in China. Recruiting and keeping ‘foreign talents’ (a term I find objectifying) is among the hottest topics in China; my experience, and an analysis of it based on the critical and feminist theoretical and methodological underpinnings of this book, offers a unique perspective on this topic. It may also have potentially important implications for foreign faculty members in other ‘sensitive’ contexts (a term I explore). I will discuss the multiple temporalities that I have embodied, particularly early career, temporariness, and insecurity as a foreign scholar that has no access to national research funding schemes in China or my country of citizenship. How I perform as the only foreign female faculty member, both in interactions with academic and administrative staff and with students, would be examined, including how my increasing fluency in Chinese is interwoven into both. Secrecy and ‘saving face’ would be addressed. Finally, how the concept of ‘neoliberalism’ manifests itself Chinese universities and how this has affected me will be examined, including how this relates to notions of both loneliness and solidarity (particularly with Chinese female colleagues and male foreign colleagues).



I thank the editors for exemplifying what a positive publication experience can look like in terms of unfailing support and constructive feedback. I thank Greg Misiaszek for being my first reader. I owe an intellectual debt to Robert Tierney. I thank Lorin Yochim for trying on ideas. I thank all the BNU students and other NU students in China who read the final draft - from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. All of your feedback - a “member check” of sorts - gives me the confidence to share these reflections. I thank all my colleagues who gave me feedback in conferences and other spaces. Finally, I would like to thank everyone at BNU for their support - 非常感谢.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren Ila Misiaszek
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of International and Comparative Education, Beijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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