Accepted paper:

Keep Calm and Apply to Germany: How online communities mediate transnational student mobility from India

Authors:

Sazana Jayadeva (GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies)

Paper short abstract:

Indians aspiring to study abroad have been turning to social media platforms to connect with others also working towards going abroad for study, leading to the creation of many online communities of aspirants. I show the key role such communities play in mediating student mobility from India.

Paper long abstract:

Indians aspiring to study abroad have been turning to platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp to connect with others also working towards going abroad for study, leading to the creation of numerous pan-Indian online communities of aspirants. My paper argues that these communities play a key role in mediating transnational student mobility from India. The paper builds on anthropological scholarship on migration infrastructures and theories of polymedia, as well as ethnographic research I conducted within Facebook and WhatsApp groups of Indians aspiring to study in Germany. The paper illustrates how such online aspirant communities shape people's journeys towards going abroad for study in three important ways. First, my interlocutors stressed the sense of confidence they derived from being able to feel part of an imagined community of people applying to universities in Germany, a country that was still seen as new and relatively unknown, compared to the more 'traditional' destinations for Indian students. Second, these communities enable novel ways of knowledge collection and exchange, peer support, and collaboration in the many steps between considering studying abroad and arriving in a foreign country. Third, these communities are challenging the position of education agents - who, in India, have long been viewed as an established pathway to study abroad - and have led to the emergence of a new category of student brokers and influencers who promote themselves and acquire clients and/or followers through these communities.

panel P085
Engineering mobilities: exploring the infrastructures mediating transnational highly-skilled migration [ANTHROMOB] [Traditional panel]