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Growing Up in Transit: The Politics of Belonging at an International School

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Growing Up in Transit

The Politics of Belonging at an International School

Danau Tanu
Foreword by Fazal Rizvi

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296 pages, 4 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-408-5 25% OFF! $130.00/£92.00 $97.50/£69.00 Hb Published (October 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-409-2 eBook

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“This book is the first that not only allow insight into the mechanism of cultural reproduction of transnationality with western norms set by International Schools, but the author goes beyond her perspectives from inside and, not least through her appealing and relaxed style, allows the reader to participate.” • Anthropos

“This ethnographic study offers a valuable correction to our understandings of the ‘third culture kid’ phenomenon.” • Huon Wardle, Centre for Cosmopolitan Studies, University of St Andrews

“This book offers profound insights on how class and race can play out among globally mobile children. I highly recommend it.” • Ruth E. Van Reken, co-author, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds


In this compelling study of the children of serial migrants, Danau Tanu argues that the international schools they attend promote an ideology of being “international” that is Eurocentric. Despite the cosmopolitan rhetoric, hierarchies of race, culture and class shape popularity, friendships and romance on campus. By going back to high school for a year, Tanu befriended transnational youth, often called “Third Culture Kids”, to present their struggles with identity, belonging and internalized racism in their own words. The result is the first engaging, anthropological critique of the way Western-style cosmopolitanism is institutionalized as cultural capital to reproduce global socio-cultural inequalities.

Danau Tanu is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia in Anthropology, Sociology and Asian Studies. She has won an Australia Awards–Endeavour Research Fellowship for her research on young refugees, and has published on “Third Culture Kids”, international schools, and fieldwork methodology for multilingual settings.

Subject: General Mobility Studies General Anthropology Educational Studies



Fazal Rizvi


Introduction: Unpacking “Third Culture Kids”

Chapter 1. Being International
Chapter 2. The Power of English
Chapter 3. Living in "Disneyland"
Chapter 4. Chasing Cosmopolitan Capital
Chapter 5. The Politics of Hanging out
Chapter 6. Invisible Diversity
Chapter 7. Race and Romance
Chapter 8. Whose United Nations Day?

Conclusion: Transnational Youth


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