Transracial and Transnational Adoptive Families and the Meanings of Race and Nation

Continuing the discussion in the fall panel on adoption and narrative, this event will bring to Pittsburgh Linda J. Seligmann, author of Broken Links: Enduring Ties: American Adoption Across Race, Class, and Nation ( Stanford, 2013). This book is in part an ethnographic study by Seligmann, an anthropologist, but in it she also engages with memoirs, films, and works of ethics, religious studies, and critical theory. Seligmann studies the meanings that three groups of parents give to adoption, family, biology, nation, and race: parents who have adopted Chinese, Russian, and African-American children. She examines what adoptive parents and adoptees think of as private and public in their families and how they are situated in contexts of power, and how adult adoptees define their identities, families, and communities. One of the many ways in which this book differs from much scholarship on adoption is that Seligmann interviews not only adoptive parents but also their children, producing a more complex version of adoptive family life. This event will thus continue the discussion of how adoption, as Margaret Homans argues, “raises the most vital questions about human identity and the value and meaning of individual human lives, “ placing them in the ordinary human context of how to raise children and of how adopted children imagine their family or families. It continues to raise the question of what narratives adoptive parents create for their children and what narratives the children will eventually make out of them.

Linda Seligmann is a professor of anthropology at George Mason University and the author of four previous books. She has received many awards and published many articles and book chapters. She is also the adoptive mother of a child from Chlna.

This event is also sponsored by the Departments of English and Anthropology, the Global Studies Program, the Children's Literature Program, and the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program. For more information, please contact Marianne Novy at


Monday, April 4, 2016