Date Awarded


Document Type

Dissertation -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Charles McGovern


Around the turn of the twenty-first century, universities in the United States extended their longstanding history of cross-border activities by not only moving professors, students, and scholarship abroad but programs and campuses, as well. This trend towards transnationalization has especially involved polytechnics due to international demand for American technoscientific higher education driven by markets that favor its perceived socioeconomic utility. Using a method called "focal point analysis" that builds on the approaches of microhistory, the dissertation argues that these transnational polytechnics are globally traded commodities as well as international sociotechnical systems. They involve diversely situated users who co-configure these systems and the cultural, economic, and scientific flows moving through them. By analyzing historical moments tied to four trans/national locations (China, Ireland, India, and UAE) and institutions (MIT, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and NYIT) using a variety of online and offline archives, the dissertation shows how these users reengineer these contexts as well as globalization, the knowledge economy, and academic capitalism. as individual and group users reimagine their identities through engagement with transnational polytechnics, they also reconfigure the identities of these institutions and their contexts. The dissertation concludes that these trans/national users have blurred the national identity, financial imperatives, and scientific logics of the exported American polytechnic through stabilizing and destabilizing cultural configurations.



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