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Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging
     

Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging

by Eleana J. Kim
 

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Since the end of the Korean War, an estimated 200,000 children from South Korea have been adopted into white families in North America, Europe, and Australia. While these transnational adoptions were initiated as an emergency measure to find homes for mixed-race children born in the aftermath of the war, the practice grew exponentially from the 1960s through the 1980s

Overview

Since the end of the Korean War, an estimated 200,000 children from South Korea have been adopted into white families in North America, Europe, and Australia. While these transnational adoptions were initiated as an emergency measure to find homes for mixed-race children born in the aftermath of the war, the practice grew exponentially from the 1960s through the 1980s. At the height of South Korea’s “economic miracle,” adoption became an institutionalized way of dealing with poor and illegitimate children. Most of the adoptees were raised with little exposure to Koreans or other Korean adoptees, but as adults, through global flows of communication, media, and travel, they have come into increasing contact with each other, Korean culture, and the South Korean state. Since the 1990s, as Korean children have continued to leave to be adopted in the West, a growing number of adult adoptees have been returning to Korea to seek their cultural and biological origins. In this fascinating ethnography, Eleana J. Kim examines the history of Korean adoption, the emergence of a distinctive adoptee collective identity, and adoptee returns to Korea in relation to South Korean modernity and globalization. Kim draws on interviews with adult adoptees, social workers, NGO volunteers, adoptee activists, scholars, and journalists in the U.S., Europe, and South Korea, as well as on observations at international adoptee conferences, regional organization meetings, and government-sponsored motherland tours.

Editorial Reviews

Pacific Affairs - Tobias H��binette
Adopted Territory is truly a groundbreaking publication. It not only contributes to the new fields of Korean adoption studies, adoption cultural studies and critical adoption studies that have emerged lately, but also to the unfortunately still too territorialized fields of Asian studies and Korean studies, which still need to become transnationalized and not just include diasporic Asians and Koreans on the research agenda, but also embrace such previously discarded, forgotten and ‘non-authentic’ subjects as adoptees living in Western countries.”
From the Publisher
Adopted Territory is the best and most thorough treatment of transnational adoption that I have seen. Eleana J. Kim provides sophisticated analyses of Korean overseas adoption to the United States, and South Korean history and state politics, within the contexts of cold war geopolitics and the rise of the American empire, while also attending to issues of nation, race, citizenship, gender, social class, and culture. The breadth, depth, and scope of Kim’s analyses contribute importantly to our understanding of the people and the phenomenon. Her well-contextualized and sensitive discussions of adoptee subjectivities are of particular interest.”—Elaine H. Kim, University of California, Berkeley

“This truly remarkable ethnography chronicles the birth and first generation of the global Korean adoptee movement. Adopted Territory brilliantly asserts that the movement is born of a powerful historical conjuncture among: the U.S.’s millennial culture of multiculturalism; South Korea’s aggressive globalization regimes and emergent democratic civil society; and adoptees coming of age. Adopted Territory offers also a sophisticated study of family, kinship, and nation through the challenging lens of adoption which Eleana J. Kim declares a veritable ‘catalyst for social transformation.’ A beautifully crafted multi-sited ethnography, Adopted Territory will no doubt enjoy a vibrant intellectual life.”—Nancy Abelmann, author of The Intimate University: Korean American Students and the Problems of Segregation

Journal of Asian Studies - EuyRyung Jun
“By examining the dynamic history and relations among the concerned state actors, international and domestic adoption agencies, adoptee advocacy groups, and individual adoptees and their self-governance groups, Kim expands existing scholarship within Korean studies on the geopolitics of intimacy . . . and neoliberal and developmentalist modernity. . . . Adopted Territory may be of particular interest to scholars in the fields of Korean studies, Asian and Asian American studies, and anthropology.”
American Ethnologist - Barbara Yngvesson
Adopted Territory, Eleana Kim’s powerful and innovative book about Korean transnational adoption, brings both intellectual rigor and a fresh approach to the study of adoptive kinship.”
Ethnic and Racial Studies - Ann H. Kim
“Students and scholars of social and cultural anthropology, transnational identity and Korean and Asian American Studies will find Dr. Kim’s ethnography particularly informative. . . . Adopted Territory cogently argues the transformative potential of adoptee discourses on the inaccurate representations of adoptees as orphans and children, and the ideal family as a nuclear unit, and on challenging the state in social welfare provision. At the very least, for readers, it will re-shape conceptualizations of Korean identity and belonging.”
Pacific Affairs - Tobias H�binette

Adopted Territory is truly a groundbreaking publication. It not only contributes to the new fields of Korean adoption studies, adoption cultural studies and critical adoption studies that have emerged lately, but also to the unfortunately still too territorialized fields of Asian studies and Korean studies, which still need to become transnationalized and not just include diasporic Asians and Koreans on the research agenda, but also embrace such previously discarded, forgotten and ‘non-authentic’ subjects as adoptees living in Western countries.”
Contemporary Sociology - Sara Dorow
“The many strengths of Adopted Territory are solidified by Kim’s lucid and stylishly crafted prose. One is propelled through the book by a beautiful balance of detailed empirical accounts and judicious use of cultural theory. . . . Kim’s work is an altogether new treatment of a number of themes known to transnational adoption scholars, defamiliarizing territory we thought we knew. At the same time, it will familiarize scholars from a number of other fields with the importance of adoptees’ stories and histories to transnational counterpublics.”
Anthropological Forum - Jessica Walton
Adopted Territory is a tour de force, masterfully traversing a complex transnational terrain that is at once overtly public involving multiple vested interests and competing agendas, and intensely personal and emotive.”
Pacific Affairs - Tobias Hübinette
Adopted Territory is truly a groundbreaking publication. It not only contributes to the new fields of Korean adoption studies, adoption cultural studies and critical adoption studies that have emerged lately, but also to the unfortunately still too territorialized fields of Asian studies and Korean studies, which still need to become transnationalized and not just include diasporic Asians and Koreans on the research agenda, but also embrace such previously discarded, forgotten and ‘non-authentic’ subjects as adoptees living in Western countries.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822392668
Publisher:
Duke University Press
Publication date:
11/09/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Eleana J. Kim is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Rochester.

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