M3 "Networks of Knowledge"

Andreas Benz

Keywords: Pakistan, Northern India, education, migration, network, geography

In the Crossroads Asia region formal education has increasingly gained importance for the people’s livelihood systems and is seen as an indispensable key for regional development. In most parts of this sparsely populated region, the acquisition of higher education is only possible through migration in order to enrol in educational institutions in central places of knowledge (Benz et al. 2008; Felmy 2006).

Education related mobility is organized in pluri-local social networks, which pervade Crossroads Asia at different levels and transcend various historical and current lines of division. These networks interlink different cultural identities and world views and fluidize supposedly disjunctive cultural, ethnic, and religious boundaries. In networks of educational migration, trans-regional mobility and exchange are organized in flows of people, physical resources, knowledge, world views, values and ideas, which trigger and facilitate processes of social mobility and socio-economic change. Social capital and network capital are important advantages for a successful pursuit of education related livelihood strategies. In the context of people’s creative adaptation to changing framework conditions, education strategies and education migration today rank among the most important components in the livelihood portfolios of many households in the region and significantly contribute to survival and regional development (Stöber 2001; UNDP 2002; Wood et al. 2006). External shocks and structural trends, e.g. the colonial and post-colonial border-making and new configurations of conflict, necessitate a continuous adaptation of the education migration networks in extent and orientation, and a reorientation and modification of the related exchange processes.

Despite their growing importance, huge gaps in knowledge exist about education migration networks and the processes and social practices of their production, reproduction and modification; their complex pluri-local structures; the flows of people, resources and ideas within them; and their recent dynamics. Therefore, a detailed inquiry into education migration networks from a Crossroads Studies perspective appears to be both rewarding and necessary.

Recent approaches of migration research (Faist 2000; Kritz et al. 1992; Pries 2008), which put emphasis on the process characteristics of migratory phenomena and their organization in network structures, provide promising concepts for the analysis of education migration networks. From current discussions within the geography of education (Freytag 2003; Meusburger 2004) and geography of migration (Bailey 2010; Blunt 2007), valuable inspiration can be gained. 

Selected high-mountain communities in Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan) and Himachal Pradesh (India) with a high number of education migrants will serve as a starting point for the empirical research. The education migration networks which span from these destinations of origin to central places of knowledge within the region, the lowlands within the nation state or to international migration targets, will be investigated through the use of qualitative empirical field methodology and analyzed with the help of tools for qualitative network analysis (Scott 2000; Stegbauer 2008).


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