egotiating intercultural academic careers

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Research into the influences on academic work of professional life stories and contextual adaptability is gaining ground. There is an increase in the use of ‘self-study’ as a method for explaining the diverse work demands in the academic profession. This chapter reports on two such stories narrated by university lecturers. The aim is to illuminate and discuss academic and professional pathways to current professional situations by way of two senior university lecturers' conversations. The academics grew up and pursued their educational and professional careers in different social, cultural, linguistic, economic and political contexts, but are currently working at the same university. In their stories we explore how and in what ways their different contexts have influenced them as professional university teachers and researchers. By so doing, we use these stories to interpret the world or worlds in and through which the two have interacted on their way to academia and thus view their stories as social products constructed in the context of specific social, historical and cultural locations. Stories are here viewed as sources of ‘coming to know’ through which the two represent themselves and their worlds as well as construct personal identities as professionals. In the stories we link the past to the present as the two give meaning to their lives as these have been negotiated academically and professionally. Though stories speak for themselves they require interpretation when used as data in social research. Our model of narrative analysis is more of thematic analysis that places emphasis on the content of the story as a text. With identity construction as professionals we do also have a performative view dealing with how narrators want to be known, and precisely how they involve the audience in “doing” their identities. Through the two narratives presented in the chapter, we make links to how they can be utilized pedagogically to enable the accomplishment of new learning in the intercultural higher education context.


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