King’s College London
Gender on the move: international student mobility, identity and Russian-speaking women in the 21st century digital world
This paper discusses the previously unidentified matter of diaspora among young Russian and Kazakh women, who live and study in the UK. Positioned at the nexus of gender, mobility and new media, it introduces the micro-level analysis of the mundane realities of their new transnational lives as intertwined with the use of digital media technologies, and questions what it actually means for these mobile women’s shifting subjectivities and multiple identity (re)constructions. The objective here is to bring the strands of scholarship previously held apart into a conversation to scrutinise international student mobility as a contested space that re-mediates women’s performances of gender and their consciousness of “self” in evolving familial and social networks. In this emerging frame, ICTs need to be approached as restructuring interconnections between experiences and practices of transnational mobility, gender, identity reimagining and remembering. To create new understandings of international women students’ identity reconstructions and negotiations, this work aims to avoid any romanticising discourses of transnational and educational mobility, and to foreground, instead, the tensions, struggles and competing pressures that lie at the heart of women’s experiences abroad. The paper deals as well with a double critical discussion involving both the methodological strategy adopted and the theoretical opportunities of the proposed approach. Finally, the text introduces the forthcoming developments of this extensive research program.