Orient(aliz)ation A Case Study of North American International Education Programs at the University of Ghana

Shelane Jorgenson

Ghana has become a popular choice for North American undergraduate students who wish to study abroad, volunteer, or do an internship in the developing world. The University of Ghana, in particular, has become a popular hub for North American students to learn in and about the developing world. Utilizing my doctoral fieldwork at the University of Ghana in 2012, I draw on my interviews (Jorgenson, 2013) with North American and Ghanaian students and international program administrators to expose and discuss prevalent discourses that shape North Americans’ desires and preparations to go to Ghana and the effects these have on a host post-secondary education community. Introducing the concept of Orient(aliz)ation, I examine the ways in which the orientation programs created for North American students perpetuate the ideology and practices of Orientalism (Said, 1978) that precondition assumptions and stereotypes about the ‘Other.’ Also attending to the critical reflections of respondents, I explore the ruptures and potential avenues for resistance to Orientalism.

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