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Daughters from China : transnational adoption and imagining cold war and post-cold war China

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Item Summary

Title: Daughters from China : transnational adoption and imagining cold war and post-cold war China
Authors: Luo, Yanli
Keywords: transnational adoption from China
U.S. cultural representations
Cold War
post-Cold War
Issue Date: May 2014
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2014]
Abstract: Stepping into the classroom at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in fall 2012, I was surprised to see a senior white lady sitting in my Chinese class, and that was how I got to know Linda, a white mother of three adopted Chinese daughters. Driven by the desire to understand her daughters' birth culture and encourage them to learn Chinese, she became one of the most diligent students in the class that semester. At the same time, she kept her full-time job as a physician and took the sole responsibility of taking care of her daughters when her professor husband left the island on business trips. Once we got to know each other better, she began to tell me how she and her husband adopted their daughters. "Why did you choose to adopt only girls?" I asked one day. She told me because girls in China were suffering, and she wished she could adopt more girls and offer them a better life. "You can't imagine what would happen to the girls if they were left in China!" She exclaimed, with tears in her eyes. I tried to find out how she had the impression that girls were suffering in China, but she couldn't remember whether she got it from newspapers or other sources. However, she recalled that in the 1990s when she and her husband decided to adopt from China, news of girls suffering in China "was everywhere," and she herself never doubted it was true.
This conversation triggered my interest in researching how transnational adoption from China has been represented in American popular culture and how China and Chinese people, specifically women and girls, have been imagined in the representations. I was less driven by curiosity than by uneasiness that what Linda read about girls suffering in China was not what I knew about China. Born a female in the Chinese countryside, and travelling far and wide later for college and graduate school or simply for sightseeing in the country, I never felt I or most other girls I met were suffering. It is not my intention to disprove Linda and American representations of Chinese women and girls. What I am interested in is how images of China and of the United States have been constructed, and what ideologies have been constructed by these cultural representations. Linda's words also suggest that she felt it was her obligation to rescue girls from China and offer them a better life. Where did this narrative of rescue and obligation come from? This thesis addresses these issues by analyzing American cultural representations of transnational adoption from China during the Cold War period and post-Cold War decade.
Description: M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:M.A. - American Studies

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