The global landscape of higher education has been in rapid flux, especially apparent in the recent proliferation of new universities, international partnerships, and foreign branch campuses being established in various nondemocratic states across Asia. This trend is exemplified in the Gulf Arab monarchies of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which have successfully managed to recruit Western-educated scholars to administer and staff these various higher education projects. In this article, I ask how Western-educated scholars narrate their motives for working in higher education in the Gulf, and what this can tell us about shifting modes of governance of globalized higher education today. Based on interviews conducted in Fall 2014, I illustrate how these diasporic academics are ‘normal’ entrepreneurial subjects acting on a wide range of opportunities and constraints, desires, and aspirations. I also show how their decisions to work in illiberal states are deeply stigmatized ‘at home', and argue that these interpretations are based on geopolitical imaginaries that counterpose liberal and illiberal states through territorially based, normative mappings of space.
- Arab Gulf states
- academic capitalism
- higher education
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Political Science and International Relations