Mobilities, Transitions, Transformations

Imagining Time and Space in Universities: Bodies in Motion

Imagining Time and Space in Universities: Bodies in Motion

Claudia Matus Cánovas

Palgrave 2015

odies in Motion: Imagining Time and Space in Universities is a book addressing issues of globalization and internationalization in higher education institutions.   This book is intended for graduate students, faculty, and researchers across a range of disciplines, including education, policy studies, geography, gender and women studies, and cultural studies.  With the abundant attention to internationalization policies and practices promoted by universities, transnational organizations, and national governments, issues such as international movement of students and faculty, internationalization of curriculum, English as a second language, export of programs, among others, have emerged as a significant area of interest. However, the dominant way to address issues of internationalization in universities is oriented to structural, managerial, and administrative dimensions of these institutional processes with an emphasis on descriptive elements to enhance and facilitate more “efficient” international institutional practices. Yet limited attention has been given to cultural meanings embedded in these institutional policies and practices. This is the gap that this book intends to address. Bodies in Motion: Imagining Time and Space in Universities offers a critical analysis using theories of time and space to understand the implications of dominant ways to use discourses of internationalization in the construction of normative ideas of the international student, the revitalization of discourses of nation, the consolidation of notions of progress, the reinscription of traditional performances of gender, and the proliferation of imaginations of the stranger. All these themes provide a site to discuss how cultural narratives are constructed and reproduced by internationalization policies and practices in higher education. 


Bodies in Motion: Imagining Time and Space in Universities presents critical theorizations of time and space. My argument is that both dimensions have been understood in separate and hierarchical modes which have developed the idea of space as a key element of the showing up of the world, and time as the succession of predictable pasts, presents, and futures. As Elizabeth Grosz (1995) indicates, “the subject’s relation to space and time is not passive: space is not simply an empty receptacle, independent of its contents; rather, the ways is which space is perceived and represented depend on the kinds of objects positioned “within” it, and more particularly, the kinds of relation the subject has to those objects” (p. 92). On the other side, to think and perform time as a succession, as  “divisible into a static past, a given present, and a predictable future” (Grosz, 1999, p. 9) requires imagining and confining the self as being someone we already know, which in this book  is read as problematic and in need of questioning (Matus, 2009). The reinvention of time as an open-ended dimension resonates with other concepts such as openness, randomness, the yet-to-come, the new. Elizabeth Grosz (1999) when discussing the approaches of time as difference explains, “. . . each in his way [referring to Deleuze, Bergson, and Nietzsche] affirms time as open-ended and fundamentally active force—a materializing if not material-force whose movements and operations have an inherent element of surprise, unpredictability, or newness” (p. 4). If uses of time resonate more with indeterminacy of the future, in what ways are the past and present in dialogue with those practices and subjectivities produced because of internationalization discourses?. When space and time are used in their dominant conceptualizations they allow for the repetition of international practices as to be fixed, and as indications of motionless cultural constructs such as nation, knowledge, and progress. These theoretical arguments are visited in different themes such as, graduate international students in the United States after 9/11/2001, Chilean academics mobilizing knowledge after completing their graduate degrees abroad, and women academics “returning” to their “home countries.”  These themes are part of the analyses produced in research studies conducted in the U.S. and Chile. In many different ways and levels this work is a recollection of temporalities and different locations of my research experiences in Chile and the United States.  Since I have studied and worked in both countries since 1999, I have come to realize the storied nature of the politics of experiences (Graham, 1993, p. 36) of movement. As a result, the constant play and encounters between restricted sets of narratives of the “outsider,” “insider,” “national,” “international,” “strange,” “familiar,” etc. shapes this work.