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Eleana J. Kim, Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging. Durham: Duke University Press, forthcoming in Nov. 2010, 320 pp. Eleana Kim's is a rare book: a remarkable history unfolded before her ethnographic eyes. Namely, the birth and first decade of the global Korean adoptee movement, a movement that she estimates would eventually appeal to some 20 percent of the adult adoptee population in North America and Europe (from 1953-2007 circa 160,000 Koreans were adopted worldwide). While Adopted Territory does include key names, dates, and informants, it is historical developments--transformations of regimes, modes of thinking, and ontologies of self--that taken together, Kim convinces, enabled both a robust social movement and for many adult adoptees a veritable sea of change in their subjectivities and notions of kinship. Kim's ethnography thus answers this question: In a mere decade, how could tens of thousands of adult Korean adoptees (those who came of age from the 1970s to the 1990s) produce a new kinship, namely one among co-Korean adoptees? Importantly, theirs was a kinship that was wrested both from a powerful adoptee paradigm of integration--in which the "orphan" adoptee was ideally fully integrated into the white family and from South Korea's longstanding interest in adoptee's biological connection to the Korean nation--nor are the stakes of the adoptee kinship forged in the movement that was coalescing before Kim's very eyes. This said, the adoptee movement neither rejected outright North American and European adopted families, nor South Korean interest in their lives--indeed, South Korea figured as an important site in the rise of the movement. But there is no question that for those adult adoptees whose lives have in some way been swept up in the movement, adoptee families and South Korea alike are profoundly refigured.

Essais et sciences humaines
22 juin
Institute for Ethnographic Research

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