Knowledge ‘transfer’ as sociocultural and sociomaterial practice

Immigrants expanding engineering practices in Canada


  • Hongxia Shan University of British Colombia



Immigrant studies, knowledge ‘transfer’, practice turn, sociocultural theories, sociomaterial theories


Research on migration and knowledge transfer predominantly focuses on expatriate and return migrants, who are acclaimed for transferring knowledge from the west to the rest of the world. Not only does the literature reinforce the west as the epistemic centre, but it conjures a realist image of knowledge as an objective thing. To interrupt these images, this paper examines the knowledge transfer experiences of 22 immigrant engineers in Canada. Theoretically, it posits knowledge transfer as an effect of immigrants’ enrolment in sociocultural and sociomaterial practices within professions. Empirically, it pinpoints three ways in which immigrants help expand engineering practices, i.e., assembling knowledge, mobilizing the capacity of learning to learn, and negotiating being and becoming. The process of transfer, as accounted by research respondents, is enabled through access to epistemic and boundary objects, reception of peer professionals, and the rise of (niche) needs. The paper draws on a narrative case study.


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How to Cite

Shan, H. (2020). Knowledge ‘transfer’ as sociocultural and sociomaterial practice: Immigrants expanding engineering practices in Canada. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 11(3), 383–397.