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60 years of overseas Korean adoption and the Korean adoption issue

News of an interesting half-day seminar in Cambridge:

This is an invitation to the seminar “60 years of overseas Korean adoption and the Korean adoption issue” which will take place in Cambridge on Saturday the 20th of February 2010.

Ever since the Korean War Armistice in 1953, almost 200,000 Korean children have been adopted to more than 15 different Western countries, making it the biggest and longest running child migration program in modern history. This seminar — which is probably the first of its kind in a UK academic context — will offer different aspects and perspectives of this particular forced migration and segment of the Korean diaspora through presentations by scholars who themselves are adopted Koreans and working within such diverse fields as American studies, Asian studies, literature and economics. The program for the seminar can be found below.

Time: 2-5 PM, Saturday February 20th 2010 Place: Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College, Cambridge (map) After the seminar, you are welcome to join us for dinner at a nearby Korean restaurant. (Priority will be given to adoptees).


Tobias Hübinette: “60 years of overseas Korean adoption and the Korean adoption issue”

Overseas adoption from the Republic of Korea has by now continued uninterrupted for 60 years, making it both the biggest and longest running child migration program in modern history with perhaps as many as 200,000 finalized adoptions. At the same time, the debate regarding overseas adoption has also been going on for almost 60 years. This presentation will give an overview of the history of overseas Korean adoption and the Korean adoption issue as it has developed from a result of the Korean War to an institutionalized everyday phenomenon in contemporary South Korea. Tobias Hübinette has a Ph.D. in Korean studies from Stockholm University, and is currently working as a researcher in ethnic and migration studies at the Multicultural Centre, Sweden.

Daniel Jong Schwekendiek: “Biosocial welfare of overseas adopted Koreans” This presentation will focus on the biosocial welfare of adult overseas adopted Koreans, by assessing intercontinental differences in overweight of adoptees in the USA vs. Europe, catch-up growth mechanisms and average stature of adoptees in relation to South Korea and the adoptive countries, and the effects of Korean adoptees’ anthropometry on dating success in the West. Some of these findings have implications for public health and adoption policy. Daniel J .Schwekendiek’s research interests include the economic, social and nutritional history of the two Koreas and their diasporas. He is currently a postdoc at the University of Oxford, and a lecturer at the University of Tuebingen.

Kimberly McKee: “Constructing a Sense of Self: Adoptee Subjectivity” Understanding that adoptees inhabit multiple positions at the borderlands, this presentation deals with how American adoptees’ construct their identities located at the intersections of race, gender, class, and sexuality in memoirs, narratives, and blogs. The paper will examine how adoptees articulate their experiences both living in the United States and in Korea and how these experiences impact their continued construction of their adoptive identity. The paper will also focus on the following themes: authenticity, race/ethnicity, hybridity and the construction of “home.” Finally, the paper will also discuss the implications of these forms of expression in the wider Asian American community. Kimberly McKee is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies at King’s College, London. Her thesis examines gender, postcolonial, queer and adoption studies.

Eli Park Sorensen: “Returning to Korea: Voice, Marginality, Representation” What does “returning to Korea” mean for adopted Koreans? This paper discusses the implications of “going back”-drawing on two texts written by Korean adoptees, Astrid Trotzig’s Blood is Thicker Than Water and Jane Trenka’s Fugitive Visions, which each in their own distinctive ways outline what is at stake for adopted Koreans returning to their country of birth. The paper will furthermore discuss ideological discourses of “returning” and how these are closely related to strategies of legitimisation, marginalisation and repression. Eli Park Sorensen wrote his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at University College, London. His work focuses on postcolonial studies and adoption studies. Currently, he is a research fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge University.

Linnaea Manberger: “A Korean adoptee’s experience with and relation to Korea: A personal story”

Korea never left my thoughts, yet the lack of anything Korea-related in my life was the harsh reality when growing up as a Korean adoptee in Sweden. My opinion about Korea has changed a lot throughout time from ignorance, sadness, hate and pride, and maybe even love. It has also been difficult to sort out what my true feelings are rather than what other people, Swedes as well as Koreans, want them to be. Today, even though my official Korean identity turned out to be falsified and the real me was supposedly stillborn and pronounced dead, I have contact with my Korean family in Korea and also with my Korean family who lives in China as part of the Korean diaspora there. Linnaea Manberger is a student in Japanese at the University of Cambridge. She has presented at seminars for Korean adoptees in Sweden and is particularly interested in how adoptees relate to Korea and also transnational adoption in China.

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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