Global nomads, cultural chameleons, strange ones or immigrants? An exploration of Third Culture Kid terminology with reference to the United Arab Emirates

Source of Publication

Journal of Research in International Education


© The Author(s) 2019. The term ‘Third Culture Kid’ (TCK) is commonly used to denote children living in a host culture other than their passport culture during their developmental years. However, its meaning in relation to other terminology referring to a similar concept is a source of interest for many stakeholders. This paper opens up opportunities for further exploring and critiquing the definition of TCK, and opening this up to case studies within the context of the United Arab Emirates and more widely. It is critical to clarify the terminology in light of unprecedented levels of international migration throughout the world. This paper reviews the meaning of culture in relation to TCKs, and explores the meaning of the TCK concept as well as a number of other terms used as alternatives to TCK. A contextualization of the literature follows in relation to the researchers’ own lived experiences in the United Arab Emirates. The term TCK can be seen as part of the general stock of theoretical concepts. This paper acknowledges that it cannot catch all nuances of migrant children in the global context.

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Author First name, Last name, Institution

Anna Dillon, Zayed University
Tabassim Ali, Zayed University