Academic mobility: The intellectual in Chilean academia in the context of the global economy
Munoz Garcia, Ana Luisa
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There is a large and increasingly body of research about mobility; however, the primary focus of the conversation has been from the perspective of human capital development. By taking full advantage of existing theoretical and empirical works, this study is dedicated to reflecting upon the experiences of academics who decided to pursue a doctorate abroad and then returned to their home country. Specifically, the focus is on their experiences of returning and the ways they negotiate their construction of knowledge within the system of higher education in Chile. Methodologically, a phenomenological qualitative research method has been used to conceptualize this study and give form to the data collection and analysis process. I interviewed 41 academics in the social sciences and humanities, from three different research universities. My methodology included critical and reflexive examination of the position of the researcher and how I engaged in the narratives of the participants and the data analysis. Based on the results of the data analysis, I argue that the construction of knowledge in Chilean academia is highly influenced by policies developed during the dictatorship in the 70s and 80s. Academic mobility provides intellectuals the opportunity to encounter their own history and find a temporary shelter from which they can see the position of the social sciences and humanities in a different way. Thus, studying abroad also gives these participants tools to navigate the regulation of knowledge as well as to negotiate their own agency within the higher education system when they return to Chile. The analysis that emerges from the data collected invites us to think (and rethink) the ways academic mobility affects how knowledge is being constructed in academia, recognizing that traveling makes scholars think "otherwise" but there is also a process of negotiation that shapes what "thinking otherwise" means. Through the focus on Chilean scholars, this research contributes to a growing and significant discussion about academic mobility and the construction of knowledge in a world regulated by a neoliberal narrative of globalization.