Returning through Front or Back Door

Legibility Sorter for Overseas Ph.D. Holders in Kazakhstan


  • Aliya Kuzhabekova University of Calgary



research capacity, returning scholars, readjustment, study abroad, legibility


The article reports the results of an interview-based study exploring how internationally educated Ph.D. degree holders re-integrate into research environment in Kazakhstan and how the process of reintegration varies depending on the country of study. We found that returnees from non-Western countries experience greater challenges than returnees from the Western contexts. Applying the concept of “legibility” we reveal that the variation in the experiences is the result of operation of a legibility sorting mechanism used by the state in valuation of the quality of doctoral education of two formerly colonial academic systems – the post-Soviet and the Western one, which compete as they exert neo-colonial claims on the academic system in Kazakhstan. The state uses foreign degree recognition mechanism as a heterogeneity producing system signalling the stakeholders the desired perception of the value of the different degrees. The differentiation in the experiences results from the sorting.




How to Cite

Kuzhabekova, A. (2024). Returning through Front or Back Door: Legibility Sorter for Overseas Ph.D. Holders in Kazakhstan. Journal of International Students, 14(3), 232–253.



Research Articles (English)


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