In this essay, I examine ‘Education Abroad’- the large-scale migration of engineering students from India to the USA for seeking graduate education. I argue that Education Abroad in contemporary India is articulated at the intersection of multiple factors at different scales. These include imaginations of successful careers and lifestyles as well as frustrations with state-sponsored higher education in India - factors which, in turn, are themselves located within particular histories of (post)colonialism, developmentalism, and more recently, neoliberalism. Drawing on historical analysis and ethnographic research conducted among engineering students in Mumbai, India, and various parts of the USA, I trace ways in which Indian engineers make sense of and navigate through the intersections of these various historical and contemporary currents and the particular shape of Education Abroad that emerges as a result. Moreover, I suggest, in pursuing Education Abroad, these engineers inadvertently undermine the very systems of higher education of which they are legacy beneficiaries.
- middle class
- multi-sited ethnography