Transnationalism Bibliography

  • Howell, S. (2003). Kinning: The Creation of Life Trajectories in Transnational Adoptive Families. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 9-3 (September), 465-484.
    Keyword(s): Family, National Identity

Question(s) addressed by the author and working arguments

Treat adoption as a means to throw new light on cultural values concerning procreation, reproduction, family, kinship, children and the perceived relationship between biogenetic and social relatedness.

Despite advances in new reproductive technologies, the volume of adoption of children from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and former Soviet bloc countries is steadily growing.

By kinning, I mean, the process by which a fetus or new-born child is brought into a significant and permanent relationship with a group of people that is expressed in a kin idiom.

Because transnational adoption in Norway today is a such a public practice, taking place in a cultural climate that predicates kinship on biogenetic connectedness, and because adoptive parents engage so deliberately in transcending the fact that they are not biologically connected to their children.

The adoptees certainly undergo very radical changes to their former selves, and the parents also emerge affected.

Blood, for example, is a substance, but the significance of its meaning in context of kinship is the relational quality of blood as shared between defined categories of kin. The share of the same blood means to share certain physical resemblances as well as insubstantial qualities, such as personality, interests, and abilities inherent in. A mother without a child is by definition an impossibility; a son or daughter without a mother is not.

There is strong normative encouragement, backed by financial incentives, for fathers to participate actively in the bringing-up of their children, and many fathers today take a minimum of one month’s birth leave once the mother returns to work.

Kinship relates people together in a shared temporal and spatial universe. Being adopted, kinned, and transubstantiated, they are, from a formal as well as an emotional point of view, equal to biological children.

“I have been told by many transnationally adopted people that whenever they look in the mirror and see a non-Norwegian face they are reminded that they are different and in a minority.”

Conceptual references to transnational – transnationalism

Transnational Adoption and transnational adopted people

Conclusions or Final Remarks

Unlike immigrants who cannot make any claims to a socially embedded spatial or temporal link to Norway beyond their own personal history of arrival and residence, adopted children from overseas are “sponsored” into existing kin-based networks and histories by their adoptive parents. The practice of transnational adoption highlights several aspects of the ambiguities of Norwegian notions and values of personhood and of kinned relatedness.