La Trobe

File(s) under embargo





until file(s) become available

Narratives of ‘stuckness’ among North–South academic migrants in Thailand: interrogating normative logics and global power asymmetries of transnational academic migration

journal contribution
posted on 18.03.2021, 00:01 by James BurfordJames Burford, Mary Eppolite, Ganon Koompraphant, Thornchanok Uerpairojkit
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. part of Springer Nature. Higher education (HE) researchers have become increasingly interested in transnational academic mobility as a field of inquiry. A phenomenon frequently associated with ‘progress’ and ‘development’, research accounts are written about academic migrants who harness career momentum and experience upward social mobility resulting from their travels. In contrast to scholarly accounts which link mobility with progress of many kinds, this article foregrounds under-considered accounts of migrant academics who describe themselves as moving ‘backwards’ and feeling ‘stuck’. Drawing on an empirical study with 25 migrant academics employed in Thailand, we investigate ‘stuckness’ via two narratives of Global North academics. These narrative portraits reveal how migration may be prompted by career immobilities and that migrant academics in Thailand may perceive that they lack opportunities for career progression. We also examine how Thailand is configured as a ‘weird’ mobility destination, one that may struggle for recognition as a site for international academic career progress. The key contribution we make to critical academic mobilities scholarship is to weave in decolonial analyses of the geopolitics of knowledge production, examining ‘South’ and ‘stuckness’ as potentially linked categories for North-to-South academic migrants. We argue that narratives of stuckness among Northern academic migrants in Thailand are deeply interwoven with assumptions made about desirable directions of global travel, assumptions which are born from the profound inequalities which characterise global HE’s core/periphery structure.


The authors received financial support provided by Thammasat University under the TU New Scholar Research Grant, No. 7/2560.


Publication Date



Higher Education


17p. (p. 1-17)


Springer Nature



Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.