Literary scholar Margaret Homans argues that adoption “raises the most vital questions about human identity and the value and meaning of individual human lives.” These include questions about the relative importance of nature and nurture, and also about the role of money and international and domestic power inequalities in the exchange of children. Today many adoptees are considering these and related issues in their memoirs and documentary films. Literary scholars such as Homans have been reflecting on these works. At the same time, anthropologists have written ethnographic studies of adoptees and adoptive parents, historians have included memoirs and other cultural productions as they consider larger contexts, and journalists have explored them for wider audiences. Scholars in all these disciplines have used the concept of “narrative,” developed most in literary study, to analyze understandings of adoption.
This event will feature a panel in which two visiting humanities scholars and two Pitt faculty members, an anthropologist and a journalist, discuss narratives of the human involved in conceptualizing adoption.