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Open access

Re-considering internationalisation from the periphery

Introduction to the two linked articles

Sintayehu Kassaye Alemu, Mei Qu, Zulfa Sakhiyya, Sonja Trifuljesko, and On Hee Choi

While there is little agreement about the definitions, theories and practices of internationalisation, they have one thing in common. They tend to originate from Europe and North America and primarily serve the interests of Anglo-American academia (Ivancheva and Syndicus 2019; Marginson 2016; Rhoades et al. 2019). These two articles take a different perspective. They look at internationalisation from two kinds of peripheries and consider the strategies that peripheralised countries and people are using to try and create a more balanced or equal relationship between local or national interests and those of universities in Europe and North America. The first article considers internationalisation from peripheral countries in sub-Saharan Africa, China and Indonesia and explores the strategies of regional cooperation, ‘balanced internationalisation’ and marketisation (respectively) that they are adopting to resist marginalisation and dependency. The second article is written from the perspective of international students who are peripheralised within their host university and country in Europe. It explores the dilemmas students encounter when trying to negotiate language politics and the use of social media in order to participate more fully in the university and society.

Open access

Christina Schwenkel

This article examines challenges to the privatization of public goods in social housing in urban Vietnam, where versatile modes of commoning have been essential to sustaining life and livelihoods. Informed by theories of feminist commoning, it highlights the collective efforts of elderly women, in particular, to appropriate state property and maintain the commons to support everyday social and economic activity in ambiguous spaces undergoing urban change. Female-led strategies of subsistence and sociality have been directed toward the maintenance of common resources across shifts in political economy from state to market socialisms. Rather than organize outside formal institutions only, collective action manifested through a politics of housing that made claims to public goods in ways that pushed the state to accept existing commons and commoning practices.

Open access

Unleavened Bread and Kosher Wine

Identity Markers of the Jewish Community in Tunis under Protectorate? (1881–1956)

Nessim Znaien

By using literary sources and the administrative correspondence, I question the construction of a Jewish identity in colonial Tunisia through food products and their distribution networks. Unleavened bread and kosher wine were two staple products in the daily life of the Tunisian Jewish community. The merchant networks selling these products were numerous. In the travel narratives, the French colonial elites did not always link the Jewish community to these products. Unleavened bread and kosher wine, however, remained essential identity markers of the community, and their sale was used to finance the relief and charity fund created in 1905 by the colonial authorities through a system of taxes. Unleavened bread and kosher wine production were managed by the Chief Rabbi and the various stakeholders who contested that monopoly used economic and religious arguments.

Open access

Sintayehu Kassaye Alemu, Mei Qu, and Zulfa Sakhiyya


From the perspective of peripheralised countries, internationalisation is imbalanced and hegemonic, as it is predominantly constructed by universities in the Global North. We explore the imbalanced internationalisation from the cases of sub-Saharan Africa through the dominance of Western knowledge systems and brain drain; China through isolation and playing ‘catch up’; and Indonesia through the financial crisis, the bailout conditions of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and marketisation. By taking the cases of sub-Sahara Africa, China and Indonesia, this article problematises the idea of internationalisation and argues that it further relegates universities from the peripheralised countries to the margin.

Open access

‘We Are the Citizens of a Nation Called Lebanon’

An Ethnographic Case on Sectarianism in Lebanon and the Limits It Imposes on Its Youth

Riwa Haidar

This article looks at how the confessional system of government in Lebanon creates limits in younger citizens’ professional opportunities. These limitations are not directly implemented by the government system, per se, as this article will show. Instead, it is through it that the sectarian identification amongst the older generations became what it is today, and how, in the case of Lebanon specifically, it indirectly led to the following of strict quotas that, instead of offering equal opportunities, created sectarian obstacles that could not be overcome. This article focuses on the youth of Lebanon, notably university students, portraying how in parallel to the limitations faced and frustrations expressed by the students, a new nationalistic identification is rising amongst them as they come to realisation with the issues of confessionalism as a political system.

Open access

William F.S. Miles

Novitiates to the study of Middle Eastern faiths ‘know’ that much of the Druze religion is—paradoxically—unknowable: Druze sacred texts are regarded as closely guarded secrets. Not even Druze themselves are granted access to these scriptures if they have not taken a vow to become normatively observant. However, the decision to become Orthodox is not subject to similar confidentiality. Interviews with over a dozen religious Druze men in Israel on their decisions for becoming uqqal (religious; ‘Orthodox’) elicited a variety of responses. Their decisions were inflected, in part, by their experiences as Israelis, including several years of military service and exposure to the wider Jewish society. One’s identity as an Orthodox Druze is different in a Jewish state compared to a Muslim state: no religion is a nation unto itself.

Open access

“While it lasts”

Strategizing with precarity in internationally funded project labor in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Nejra Nuna Čengić

This article traces transformations of labor through an exploration of a relatively new employment sector in supervised postsocialist, postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), where internationally funded, temporary, project-based contracts are the rule. Focusing on atypical white-collar precarious workers who have strung together 10 to 25 years on successive short projects in IGOs and NGOs in Sarajevo (under the umbrella of democratization, peacebuilding and EU integration agendas), I investigate their ways of strategizing to accumulate such continuity through cultivation of three kinds of assets: sector-specific competences, favorable positionality, and a disposition of optimism. I argue that their “successful” strategizing, generally in line with neoliberal rationality and mainly developed within this sector, is facilitated by similar structural conditions of overall precarity, temporariness and provisionality in wider BiH society.

Open access

Bequeathing a World

Ecological Inheritance, Generational Conflict, and Dispossession

Kath Weston

In recent debates about climate change, a transmission model of ecological inheritance has apportioned responsibility for ecological damage to generations portrayed as locked in conflict, while depicting Earth as a worldly possession capable of being assigned to a set of heirs. With a focus on North America, this article examines assumptions about ownership, possession, dispositional authority, and succession embedded in the trope of bequeathing an ecologically compromised world to a receiving generation that worries it might be the last. Many of these assumptions create exclusions for those who already apprehend themselves as dispossessed. Indigenous conceptions of responsibility, temporality, and place suggest ways to begin to decolonise the rhetoric of ecological inheritance, allowing humans to inhabit the everyday under signs other than extinction, regardless of how things turn out.

Open access

Black as Drought

Arid Landscapes and Ecologies of Encounter across the African Diaspora

Brittany Meché


In the poem “ca'line's prayer,” Lucille Clifton marks the progression of Black generational memory through the metaphor of drought. The poem's 1969 publication coincided with one of the worst droughts in modern history. Across the West African Sahel late rains and the onset of famine led to widespread death and displacement. Starting from this conjunctural moment in the late 1960s and using Clifton's provocation about the “Blackness” of drought, this article contemplates representations of arid environments in African and Afro-diasporic texts. I consider various imaginings of arid spaces, presented simultaneously as wasteland and homeland. Surveying critical scholarship on the Sahelian drought, I interrogate the contested meanings of Black life and death in deserts. I also consider the contemporary resonances of these themes, engaging African eco-critical and Afro/Africanfuturists texts. I show how these portrayals of actual and imagined deserts reveal alternate modes of encounter forged through Black/African ecological thought.

Open access

Alex A. Moulton and Inge Salo


Black geographies and Black ecologies are epistemological frameworks that attend to the ideological, philosophical, and material portent of Black movements in dialectical, but not deterministic, relationships with the geographies and environments of Black life and struggle. This article reviews the Black geographies and Black ecologies literature, showing the convergence of these bodies of scholarship around themes of racial, spatial, and ecological justice. The thematic, methodological, and analytical overlaps between Black geographies and Black ecologies are quite apropos for understanding the current realities faced by Black racial-spatial-ecological justice movements; for clarifying the geographies, histories, and ecologies of Black transformation, flourishing, and everyday resistance; and for explicating how global environmental crises are rooted in racial capitalism and regimes of racialization (a sociopolitical crisis).