Deconstructing the periphery: Korean degree-seeking students’ everyday transformations in and through India

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According to dominant perspectives on educational mobilities, India is not an obvious study destination choice and more so not a favoured one for students from South Korea. The aim of this paper is to question this prevalent discourse by drawing attention to the small-sized but rather steady flow of Korean students who have gone to Indian universities for both short-term and long-term educational programmes. Obviously, this unique but underexplored phenomenon is at odds with the prevailing episteme surrounding international student mobilities (ISM) focused on the ‘world-class’ imaginary and East–West, South–North binaries. By presenting empirical data on and from Korean degree-seeking students in India, this study offers fertile understanding of student experiences and imaginings of transformations – those that take place in what have been typecast as ‘peripheral’ study destinations such as India. Drawing on critical scholarship on ISM, this paper seeks to find out what changes and shifts are generated in and through the periphery as a place of study. In particular, it asks: what discourses on transformation do students construct as they experience, imagine and desire changes in their lives through their everyday encounters with and negotiation of India? How are these transformations articulated and how do these articulations, in turn, manifest (de)constructed views of place, of self and of others? And, lastly, how do these narratives shape the broader discourse on educational mobilities and study abroad? In approaching these questions, this paper introduces diverse discourses on ‘everyday transformations’ articulated by students through comparison, contradiction and conjecture.