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The Social Value of Overseas Education in Cambodia


This lecture will present first findings drawn from ongoing research on the socio-professional status of Cambodians who have moved overseas for their secondary and/or higher education and were subsequently recruited to high positions in government institutions. This research will contribute to better understanding of the specificities of these educational trajectories and the evolution of occupational positions of foreign-educated graduates in the broad public sector. 

Drawing on biographical interviews conducted from September to December 2019, this lecture will address overseas education as valuable cultural capital in Cambodia. First, it will provide a historical background regarding students’ mobilities in foreign countries since the French colonial period and the Sangkum era. Secondly, and most importantly, Ms. Martin will focus on a cohort of “returnee” graduates educated in France, mostly in the fields of law and economics, between the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. She will lay out the particularities of the public sector employment opportunities from which they benefited as the first generations of Western graduates returning home. 


Adélaïde Martin is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Khmer Studies and a PhD candidate in political science at the University Paris Nanterre. Her research topic is “The Socio-Professional Status of Foreign-Educated ‘Returnees’ and Diaspora’s ‘Remigrants’ in the Post-Khmer Rouge State”. At the crossroads of migration and education studies as well as policy analysis, her investigation focuses on how internationalized actors take advantage of their migration or mobility in higher education to increase their social resources and gain access to the Cambodian state administration.

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