Toward an Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Diversity of “Third Culture Kids”



The term “Third Culture Kids” is currently used to describe children who experience a high level of international mobility while they are growing up. It is usually applied to those who are relatively economically privileged and move due to their parents’ career choices, typically in the corporate, diplomatic, military, religious (missionary), or NGO sectors. There is an emphasis on “those raised with an inner expectation of ‘going back’ or repatriating one day” (Van Reken, 2014). Over the last decade or so, the term has garnered attention among the expatriate population and educators in international schools that cater to these children. “Third Culture Kids” and its related term “global nomads” (McCaig, 2002) have been featured in various major international media outlets such as Al Jazeera and the International New York Times (formerly International Herald Tribune) (e.g. Bolon, 2002; Al Jazeera, 2013; Rodriguez, 2013). However, the concept is difficult to apply across disciplines for two reasons. First, it is premised on essentialist categories that reify the boundaries, which define “Third Culture Kids”. Second, the (Anglophone) literature has hitherto overlooked the significance of the specific socio-historical context within which the term “Third Culture Kids” was coined and subsequently popularized. The literature is broadly unreflexive of its own American-centric approach.


International School International Mobility Cultural Displacement International Herald Tribune Host National 
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