The Fractured Values of Best Interests: Struggles and Spaces of Transnational Adoption Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Larson, Stevie
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
  • Transnational adoption of children has been in practice for over sixty years, and it has developed and formalized to such an extent that scholars regard it as an efficient (even ruthless) system. But this approach largely fails to explain transnational adoption’s unruly heterogeneity, historical volatility, and highly uneven geography. I propose an alternative framework, one that approaches transnational adoption as an assemblage of social actors in struggle. The dissertation maps this assemblage as it shifts through three conjunctural eras – struggles over regulation of proper adoption conduct, class war over the rights and benefits in adoption, and disruptive subjectivities of adult adoptees – through each era’s primary civil society actors and agitators, the content and strategy of their organizing, and the lasting functions and consequences of their actions. Focusing particularly on the state of Minnesota and its unexpectedly large and politically active adult Korean adoptee community, I draw from civil society archives and adoptive parent and adoptee interviews to narrate a ‘people’s history’ of transnational adoption from the 1950s to today. This history demonstrates that the most defining issues that have structured and transformed transnational adoption – welfare state governance, race and class relations, adoptee needs and rights – came about in uneven spaces of radically contingent struggles that strive, often unsuccessfully, to regulate the autonomies and differentiations that saturate child welfare.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Ho, Jennifer
  • Pickles, John
  • Smith, Sara
  • Reyes, Alvaro
  • Hardt, Michael
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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