Re-imagining International Doctoral Students as Diasporic Academics

  • Sherrie LeeEmail author
  • Dely Lazarte Elliot


The presence of international scholars at Western institutions is part of the larger phenomenon of internationalization of higher education. These scholars have been referred to as diasporic academics who act as knowledge brokers in transnational network flows, most obviously seen in the global academic elite with multiple affiliations. The potential of international doctoral students as diasporic academics, however, has not yet been sufficiently explored by the scholarship, particularly their implications for doctoral education. Instead, these foreign scholars are at times sadly portrayed as if they were merely research commodities, or even perceived to be deficient by ‘Western standards’. Literatures focusing on intercultural doctoral supervision help address these issues by recognizing how doctoral candidates’ cultural histories, identities, and intellectual resources can contribute to more equitable power relations in Western academe, rather than simply be construed as problematic. As a personal response, we have reflected on our own doctoral education experiences, articulating the risks and rewards of positioning ourselves as transnational knowledge brokers and co-creators of new forms of knowledge. We propose that institutions and supervisors are able to play a much more active role in nurturing their international doctoral students as diasporic academics, with a view to inspiring these students to envision themselves as diasporic academics and critically engage with their transnational networks.


International doctoral students Diasporic academics Doctoral education Intercultural supervision 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.University of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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