Accepted Papers:

How helpful Is the concept 'third culture kids'? School affinities and new geographies with four 'sort-of' Dominicans  


Edmund Hamann (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Aprille Phillips (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Paper Short Abstract:

This longitudinal study of 4 students with shared experience at an ‘American’ school in the Dominican Republic considers their rejection of hybrid identities despite Korean, Dominican, and American transnational biographies and complexities that affirm and challenge the frame of third culture kid.

Paper long abstract:

This longitudinal study of four former students first encountered at a self-described American school in the Dominican Republic allows us to go beyond the experience of transnational students at schools (none of the former students are still at that school) and to consider the pertinence and relevance of the category 'third culture kids' when that would not have been a label that fit each of them when they were at the same school. These former students, two now in Korea, one in the US, and one in the Dominican Republic, match Pollock and Van Reken's (2009) criteria as youngsters of relative privilege and ultimate transnational mobility, but not necessarily Useem's criteria (quoted in Pollock and Van Reken [2009: 16]) as "from one culture and in the process of relating to another." Based on fieldwork pursued in three countries, our paper (1) traces the four students coming of age including their rejection of hybrid identities like 'Dominican American' or 'Dominican Korean', (2) examines the role of a school in creating affinity across geographic differences, (3) considers how the very orientation of the school (in this case referencing one country while existing in another) shapes a 'third culture' disposition, even among those whose experience is mononational, and (4) explores how these complexities alternately affirm and challenge the lens of third culture kid as a way of understanding those who come of age with life experience in and/or with overt reference to multiple countries, ultimately allowing us to amend/update the TCK model.

Panel P096
Child migrants or 'third culture kids'? Approaches to children and privileged mobility (ANTHROMOB)