Past Event

How Transnational Education Transforms Privilege

March 10, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM
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Zoom Webinar

Watch the recorded event here.

Speaker: Yingyi Ma, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of Asian/Asian American Studies, Syracuse University

Moderator: Yao Lu, Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

This study examines two cohorts of Chinese international students studying in the U.S. whose privilege is challenged and sometimes upended before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research questions the dominant framing of privilege centering on the notion of ease, as informed by the western scholarship on elite education. Drawing from the power structure of international education and rising geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China, this study concludes that transnational education infuses much anxiety and fragility into the lived experiences of international students, who have experienced the status loss from the privileged majority to the marginalized minority. COVID had exacerbated this loss. This study contributes to the scholarship on elites by interrogating the western-centric notion of privilege. 

Speaker Bio:

Yingyi Ma is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of Asian/Asian American Studies at Syracuse University. Professor Ma is a sociologist of education and migration. She is currently the Provost Faculty Fellow on internationalization at Syracuse University. In 2019, she was selected as a Public Intellectual Fellow at the National Committee on US-China Relations. Her monograph Ambitious and Anxious: How Chinese College Students Succeed and Struggle in American Higher Education, published in 2020 by Columbia University Press, has won the Best Book Award, Higher Education Special Interest Group, Comparative and International Education Association (2021), and Bourdieu Book Award Honorable Mention, American Sociological Association (2021). She received her Ph.D. in sociology from Johns Hopkins University in 2007.

This event is part of the 2021-2022 lecture series on “COVID-19 Impacts and Responses in China and Beyond” and is sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and cosponsored by Columbia's China Center for Social Policy. 

Contact Information

Julie Kwan