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Cultures of Transnational Adoption Paperback – June 10, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (June 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822335891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822335894
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #848,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“This outstanding collection—a rich mix of analyses and first person accounts—offers insights into an under-reported aspect of globalization: the ever-increasing circulation of children around the globe through transnational adoption. The kinship relations created through such processes have taken a distinctly postmodern turn as adoptive families nurture rather than sever their new children’s cultural connections to birth countries. All of this is greatly facilitated by the Internet, video technologies, and the creation of social worlds that underwrite these new forms of cultural making.”—Faye Ginsburg, New York University

“This valuable collection offers an ethnographically rich, theoretically sophisticated, and engagingly written set of contributions to the interdisciplinary literature on transnational adoption.”—Pauline Turner Strong, University of Texas, Austin

About the Author

Toby Alice Volkman is Deputy Provost at New School University. She is the author of Feasts of Honor: Ritual and Change in the Toraja Highlands.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Linda J. Seligmann on October 30, 2005
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Toby Volkman, editor of this volume and an anthropologist, describes the uncharted territory and cultures that transnational adoption is fast creating as the "new geographies of kinship." Indeed, the contributors to this thoughtful volume examine with courage and carefully grounded research, difficult subjects, such as the motivations of birth mothers in relinquishing their children to international adoption, or the struggles of adoptive parents and their children as they seek to constitute new identities despite minimal cultural knowledge of their children's country, gaps in memory, and the absence of connections with birth parents. The themes range widely to include the power of the internet in shaping popular representations of international adoption; the ways in which mythologies and fantasies confront realities as adoptive children make return journeys to their country of origin; and changing national policies of sending countries as they reconsider the stigma they once associated with mixed children adopted internationally who were the product of love and war. The contributors pay close attention to the larger political and economic forces that frame the contradictions and struggles entailed by transnational adoption. At the same time that they do not fall into the trap of romantic narratives of rescuing children, they are sympathetic to the good faith efforts of families to make sense of a world for which few road maps are available. Most, but not all, of the authors are adoptive parents themselves and therefore do not lose sight of the positioning and perspectives underlying the ethics and practices of all the actors and institutions involved in these journeys. This is first-rate ethnography.Read more ›
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Indigo A. W. Willing on January 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
This edited collection by Toby Volkman has a fair few adoptive parents (who are academically working as anthropologists) playing the roles of interrogators, interpreters and story tellers of this global phenomenon. Sometimes the object of their analysis is their own community (adoptive parents) and sometimes it is Others (birth parents, the overseas children they adopt).

This positioning itself is not unusual, for adoptive parents (who are also making a living as adoption researchers, practioners, authors and so on) dominate the publications coming out on the practice of transnational adoption. While their own voices remain valuable, the lack of voices from researchers who are adopted, from the birth countries and birth parents has limitd the lens through which the practice is viewed and understood.

However, this edited collection remains a must have for any adoption researcher - as well as scholars interested in issues of transnationalism, diasporas and "new" or "hybrid" cultural identities. It is also accessible enough for ordinary readers, including adoptive parents begin to overcome many of the myths and fantasies surrounding the practice.

For example, I refer to a very interesting and original discussion piece titled "Chaobao: The Plight of Chinese Adoptive Parents in the Era of the One Child Policy" is provided by a researcher and adoptive parent - Kay Johnson. pp 117 - 141

The discourse, at times, leans on the language and the subjectivity that perhaps only an non-Chinese adoptive parent could foster but it is still a remarkably broad insight into the social stakes of Chinese adoption and abandonment. For Western readers like myself, it also has much sort after rare references to English language but Chinese led studies on the topic.
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