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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Decolonizing the social imaginaries of British Columbia's international education phenomenon Lin, Gloria


Working from an anticolonial and decolonizing framework, this thesis seeks to contribute to the current understanding of the K-12 International Education Phenomenon in British Columbia (BC), Canada. My research begins with the premise that online newspapers have become a popular channel not only for news agencies to distribute and disseminate information but also for readers to respond to news in real time and exchange opinions with each other. The advancement in electronic media leads to new forms of communication and offers “new resources and new disciplines for the construction of imagined selves and imagined worlds” (Appadurai, 1996, p. 3). Using the concept of social imaginaries, my study argues that web-based news comment sections allow their readers to form a collective sense of the imagination by providing readers with the conditions of collective reading, commenting, critiquing and pleasuring. These readers begin to form a “community of sentiment” and a “group that begins to imagine and feel things together” (Appadurai, 1996, p. 7). Within this context, my research investigates the social imaginaries of international students and the host society as constructed on the online news platforms. Using an anticolonial and decolonizing content analysis, this research disrupts colonial gazes operationalized in virtual spaces: (1) objectification of international students and the subjectivization of host society; (2) imperial legitimization through policy; (3) reproduction of cultural and linguistic hegemony and (4) essentialization and racialization of international students as “too Asian”. The findings highlight that the BC International Education Phenomenon is shifting the social imaginaries of public education as well as the imaginaries of international students in public schools and society. This exchange in turn not only objectifies international students as cash cows but also subjugates the host society to the branding and sale of BC education, which further perpetuates the historical imperial mission of colonization.

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