Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belongingby Eleana J. Kim
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.
“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
“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.”
- Duke University Press
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 3 MB
Meet the Author
Eleana J. Kim is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Rochester.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews