Crossing borders and confronting social boundaries: International students' experiences in the United States
Hardy, Diane Marie
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation explores the ways in which international students in higher educational institutions interpret and articulate their national and gendered identities while living, studying, and working in the United States. While scholarly work has been completed that attests to the globally interrelated world we live in (Appadurai, 1996), work still needs to be done to understand how individuals deal with social identity boundaries such as nationalism and gender. Such work can help us understand the influence of nationality and if an international educational experience can help break down such social barriers or work to reestablish them. So too for gender, as gender is aspect of identity often argued to be understood through a nationalistic lens (Banerjee, 2005; Mayer, 2000). Drawing upon notions of identity informed by theoretical perspectives developed by Said (1978), Bhabha (1990, 1994), Anderson (1991), and Anthias (2001, 2006) allows for an investigation beyond the functionalist perspectives of homogeneity of identities—and into areas that allow for a more nuanced understanding of identity negotiation while abroad. In-depth interviews and focus group data were collected from international students at four higher educational institutions in the eastern part of the United States to inform us about the complex process of becoming a part of social networks. These students' stories bring to light how such social networks influence personal decisions of identity, nationality and gender. Those decisions reveal how crossing borders means confronting social boundaries.