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The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Transnational Adoption Literature: History, Genre, Representation

Since the Korean War (1950-1953), over half a million non-western children have been sent to western countries for transnational adoption — whereas there are very few examples of white children adopted to non-western countries by non-western populations. In my paper, I will talk about the historical background of transnational adoption, some of the political aspects involved, and how this phenomen relates to the study of literature. I focus on Korean adoption, primarily because the model of transnational adoption developed in the aftermath of the Korean War is unique: it represents the first real example of an institutionalized, large-scale, transnational adoption programme which subsequently has been and to some extent still is reproduced in other non-western countries. Furthermore, I discuss autobiographical writing written by Korean-born adoptees — a corpus of texts that has emerged within the last three decades due to the fact that the generations of Korean children sent abroad during the sixties and seventies have now come of age — ready to speak for themselves, to offer their own viewpoint, in a public space that has typically been dominated by adoptive parents, politicians, journalists, academics and social workers.


Eli Park Sorensen is assistant professor in Department of English at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He specializes in comparative literature, postcolonial thought, literary theory, and cultural studies. He is the author of Postcolonial Studies and the Literary: Theory, Interpretation and the Novel (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and has published in journals such as NOVEL: A Forum on FictionJournal of Narrative TheoryParagraphModern DramaResearch in African LiteraturesPartial Answers, and Forum for Modern Language Studies.