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Academic Diaspora, Transnational Education-Driven Mobilities, and the Nation State  

Le Ha Phan

Transnational education-driven mobilities produce a particular kind of academic diaspora in global higher education that is often valued by both home and host countries but in ways that vary and serve different interests and aspirations. These interests and aspirations are usually tied up with the contrasting perspectives on brain drain and brain circulation. With the promotion of worldwide globalization-driven internationalization of higher education, brain circulation and the associated discourse of connectivity have increasingly dominated policy and scholarly debates. The discourses of brain circulation and connectivity are furthered supported by technological advancements and numerous education-driven mobility programs introduced at all levels. While evidence of gain, circulation, and connectivity remains limited, there are concerns about capacity, knowledge and intellectual dependency, and academic inequalities between more developed higher education systems and those in developing countries. At the same time, varied privileges attached to academic diasporas and educational mobilities can cause tensions and hierarchies within a higher education system. The academic diaspora politics is located within this complex, hierarchical, and dynamic cultural, political, and economic space. As a way forward, grounded/home-based transnationality and a shift in discourse are discussed as a possible productive counter position to help reduce inequalities. Examples from Vietnam and several African countries as well as their respective transnational academic diasporas are provided to demonstrate the nuanced academic diaspora, brain drain, and brain circulation discourses.