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

296 pages, 4 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-408-5 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (October 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78920-795-8 $29.95/£23.95 / Pb / Published (December 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78533-409-2 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


Growing up in Transit is a welcome addition to the emerging literature on elite schooling in the Global South. Its rich ethnographic details, critical but sensitive rendering of the lives of privileged youth, and attention to contemporary political economy present a nuanced and evocative analysis of privilege. The book will be of interest to anthropologists and sociologists of education.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)

“This well‐written and engaging book gives new interesting information and fresh analytical perspectives on an increasingly common phenomenon that has not been widely studied among anthropologists until now…[It] can be recommended to anyone interested in multiculturalism and migration; looking at the more privileged migrants provides food for thought also for scholars studying migration in less privileged contexts.” • Social Anthropology

“The pace of the book is methodical and thorough. Following an admiring Foreword from Fazal Rizvi, the 18-page preface is an enlightening and necessary account of the author’s own heritage, life and intellectual development, establishing her authority as a quadrilingual emic researcher in several of the student communities… It is its objectivity and methodology that facilitates it which make this book so original…This ground-breaking book offers a foundation for studies in the new generation of international schools.” • Journal of Research in International Education

“[This volume] makes a riveting read... Danau Tanu delivers an exceptional, genuinely interesting, thought-provoking account of her experiences in a secondary school in Jakarta… [that is] tightly researched and presented in lucid prose,… [and] a must-read for all leaders of international schools because it presents the opportunity for them to question the most fundamental purpose of what they do, i.e. shape the contexts in which identities develop.” • International Schools Journal

“The book is an exceptional contribution to the theory and practice of cosmopolitanism among privileged students with high mobility in transnational spaces such as an international school… The author’s unique experience growing up as a Third Culture Kid enabled her to breathe life into the ethnographic data, making sophisticated concepts and complicated processes discussed in the book engaging and relevant.” • Asia Pacific Journal of Education

“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


“[R]ecommended to anyone interested in multiculturalism and migration….[and] food for thought also for scholars studying migration in less privileged contexts.”—Social Anthropology

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.

From the introduction:
When I first went back to high school at thirty-something, I wanted to write a book about people who live in multiple countries as children and grow up into adults addicted to migrating. I wanted to write about people like Anne-Sophie Bolon who are popularly referred to as “Third Culture Kids” or “global nomads.” … I wanted to probe the contradiction between the celebrated image of “global citizens” and the economic privilege that makes their mobile lifestyle possible. From a personal angle, I was interested in exploring the voices among this population that had yet to be heard (particularly the voices of those of Asian descent) by documenting the persistence of culture, race, and language in defining social relations even among self-proclaimed cosmopolitan youth.

Danau Tanu is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University and an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Social Sciences, The University of Western Australia.

Author's Website:

Subject: Mobility StudiesAnthropology (General)Educational Studies
Area: Asia-Pacific


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I would like to recommend Growing Up in Transit The Politics of Belonging at an International School for the library. Please include it in your next purchasing review with my strong recommendation. The RRP is: $135.00

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