Who Wants a PhD from GSLIS?!

I received my PhD from GSLIS at the University of Illinois and absolutely loved it. Check it out:

Fellowships Now Available for Doctoral Study: Information in Society

With grant support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science is recruiting a select group of doctoral students interested in pursuing the study of information in society, in its historical, political-economic, and/or policy dimensions.  Your interests may lie in any part of the emerging field of information studies, such as practices of information organization, library history, the political economy of information, or community information systems; your academic background may be in library and information science, history, law, communications or other fields–as long as you share our commitment to engaging deeply with the processes that structure information in society. Fellowship recipients should be seeking to prepare for careers as faculty members in schools of library and information science.

Apply by January 5, 2010 to begin study in Fall 2010

Contact: Professor and Associate Dean Linda C. Smith:
(217) 333-7742
Email: lcsmith@uiuc.edu

Visit the website at http://www.lis.illinois.edu/programs/phd/infosociety

Korean Adoption Law Revisions

From an email request I received from TRACK:

Dear petition signers,

How has the summer treated you?
TRACK has been busy here in Seoul keeping the government on its toes and working with the media to increase public awareness about adoption.
Here are two links.
This one is a link to our draft of the adoption law revisions. This is made by the coalition of the Gong-gam public interest lawyers, TRACK, ASK, KoRoot, and now the Mamma Mia single moms group. They are single moms who are raising their babies. Adoptees especially, please click on the link and follow the instructions to participate.
And if you haven’t seen it already, please take a look at the hour-long SBS program with English subtitles on adoption. It exposes how the agencies are treating us and why TRACK is fighting for our human rights.
Coming up this fall will be one more public hearing! We heard today that there will be translation again! Hooray! (But English only — no French. BOooo!) We will also participate in the National Assembly audit again. This is a way to get information from the government and also have them examine the practices of the adoption-related agencies, such as the unwed mothers’ homes.
Hope you’re having a great day, wherever in the wide world you are.
Peace and happiness to you from Seoul!

TRACK 진실과 화해를 위한 해외입양인 모임

PayPal: truthreconcile@gmail.com
우리은행 1002-738-888382


The Cost of Culture-Keeping

From an article in the Boston Globe:

Parents do these things to help instill in their children pride in who they are, and where they came from, but also to prepare them in case they want to return to their homeland and search for their birth family. What perplexes me is when parents say things like they are sorry for removing their children from “their culture.”

And yet the demand is still so high.

But focusing on a museum view of culture can ignore – or become a way to ignore – the reality of life as a racial minority in America.

Being Asian American is not about celebrating the lunar new year, wearing a hanbok, painting a mask, or banging a drum. Yeah, we do those sometimes, but there’s more to it than that. For example, today someone asked me if I was from the US. It was much nicer than asking “So what country are you from?” but the implication is there: I don’t look American. That is something you don’t get from the “museum view of culture” that Hopgood writes of.

This is a danger, I think, in presenting the birth country and family in an overly romantic way, and in raising a child’s expectations that they will and should fit in. Adoptees can end up feeling bad not only because they don’t fit in, but because they disappoint their parents.

There is also a danger, I think, in presenting the birth country and family in an overly romantic and unmodernized, backwards way; that the birth parents are poor farmers from rural areas and unable to raise a child. Unfortunately, I can name more than a few children’s books that do that. Likewise, I can name more than a few children’s books that romanticize adoption itself; the rescue, the colorblind love, the trivial misunderstandings from society that adoptees should brush off. Right.

I realize that adoptees will all come to their own view of culture and adoption, but I imagine many international adoptees and children in multiracial families share this wider, more global view of themselves. Our blended family backgrounds, beliefs, and practices – as diverse, complicated, and dissonant as they might seem – are as authentic as any. We are another version of the immigrant story, with a culture is just as rich as the one we might have had.

Read the rest of it here. Thanks to Ji-Yeon Yuh for the link.

Revisions to Korea Adoption Law

Check out the proposed content revisions to Korea’s Adoption Law. Thanks to Jane Jeong Trenka, TRACK and allies for all your hard work!


The first couple paragraphs:

Ms. Rami So, lawyer with Gong-Gam
Korean Public Interest Lawyers’Group, Gong-Gam
Last modified: July 23, 2009
*Please direct translation questions to Kelsey at khsmarch@gmail.com*

Objective: The Korean Public Interest Lawyers’Group, Gong-Gam, in collaboration with adoptee organizations TRACK and ASK, KoRoot, non-affiliated adoptees, single parents, and other interested parties in Korea and abroad is currently drafting abillto addressrevisions to adoption procedure law in Korea. In an effort to inform and include feedback from as many interested parties as possible during the revision process, an outline of the first draft is
provided below. Please understand that this is a “work in progress”and is continually undergoing revisionsas more recommendations and feedback are taken into account.

Feedback: This is an exciting yet crucial time in Korea to change the future of adoption practices (both domestic and intercountry) to ensure the best interests of the child. The contents of the revisions not only include amendments to adoption procedures, but also address adoptee rights related to post-adoption services and access to adoption records. If you have any comments, feedback and/or suggestions please email khsmarch@gmail.com
and your ideas will be passed on to Gong-Gam. Any and all opinionsand comments are welcome. As this is a time sensitiveproject, it is appreciated if you can send your feedback before SEPTEMBER 1st so that we can ensure that your thoughts are heard.

Read the entire draft outline here.

The All-White World of Children’s Publishing

I just read a great paper by Laura Atkins (Roehampton University, London) titled “What’s the Story? Reflections on White Privilege in the Publication of Children’s Books” that she gave at the IRSCL congress in Frankfurt. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately since I study Asian American children’s literature and, although a bit dated, the CCBC reports that the ratio of insider authors of Asian/Asian American stories is higher than that of the Native American, Latino and Black stories (2002). I hypothesize that it is because Asian Americans are perceived to be better educated and able to represent themselves than Native Americans, Latinos and Blacks, which is an unfair stereotype thanks to the Model Minority Myth (shall we call this our “yellow privilege”?)

Also, I’ve been thinking of white privilege in publishing because of my research regarding transracial adoption in American children’s literature. The majority of Asian children adopted into the US have been adopted by white couples of relative economic stability – the “white middle class” Laura speaks of. Of the 51 children’s and young adult books I examined in my dissertation, almost all were written by white Americans, and about half were written by white adoptive mothers. Few were written by Korean Americans, and a whopping one was written by an adopted Korean, who was about nine years old at the time of writing, and whose text was thus heavily edited by her therapist and adoptive parents – all white, I presume. I also presume that the majority of editors and publishers whose hands accepted these texts were white Americans. Thus, while the topics of these stories were the experiences of transracially adopted Koreans, the creators and “gatekeepers” who let them into the American publishing world were – and are – white Americans.

So, since I tend to look at most issues through the lens of transracial adoption, I read Laura’s article with TRA at the front of my mind. Some thoughts:

Laura writes,

“I would argue that most children’s publishing houses currently exist in order to serve the interests and needs of the white majority culture.”

Publishing is undeniably an industry. Adoption, on the other hard, is also an industry, but many would deny it. Korean adoptee and adoption activist Jane Jeong Trenka writes about “transnational adoption and the ‘financialization of everything’” in her eloquent Conducive article, and Korean adoptee and adoption scholar Tobias Hübinette writes of how adoption agencies are “profit-making,” how changes in the Korean economy ebbed and flowed the tide of adoption, and how transnational adoption can be likened to slavery because “both practices are driven by insatiable consumer demand, private market interests and cynical profit making, and utilise (sic) a highly differentiated system of pricing, where the young and the healthy are the most valued… both groups are brought over only to please and satisfy the needs, demands and desires of their well-to-do buyers and owners,” with both practices “justified and legitimised (sic) by the same shallow argument that when moved to their new homes, the actual material solution of the slaves and the adoptees is unquestionably greatly improved” (Hübinette, Comforting an Orphaned Nation, 2006). I’m sure this comparison makes many uncomfortable, but there it is: they “exist in order to serve the interests and needs of the white majority culture.”

Okay, back to white privilege in children’s literature publishing. Laura continues:

“this in many ways goes beyond color – it is the problem of a deeply engrained culture of publishing, of distribution networks, of the perceived market… The children’s publishing industry is blind, insular, and self-enclosed in too many ways. Yes, many good and well-intentioned people work in the industry, and most desire to make things better, to provide all children with wonderful books to read. But this is such a fundamental problem based on who primarily works in the industry, and even more so who holds the positions of power and dictates marketing and publication decisions.”

“Perhaps self-publishing will be the way forward, the internet, the ability of people to bypass an archaic publishing industry that seems slow to respond to change. Though currently, self-published books lack the legitimacy that most children’s book buyers perceive from books that come out of publishing houses.”

No doubt TRA stories are written by “good and well-intentioned people” who want to “provide all children with wonderful books to read.” But are good intentions enough? One of the stories I examined mislabeled Korea’s location on a map and another displayed the Korean flag with the black bars slanted in the wrong direction. If a Korean American editor had been checking the story, surely those mistakes would not have gone unnoticed.

Laura mentions Lee & Low and Children’s Book Press, two publishers that publish specifically multicultural children’s books. There does exist an adoption publisher that publishes specifically adoption related texts: Yeong & Yeong (publisher of the well-known When You Were Born in Korea and When You Were Born in China books). Still, I would say the majority of adoptees who try to go more mainstream have difficulty finding a home for their stories. Some adoptee friends of mine who have successfully published for the adult market have been unable to publish their books for children or young adults because they are deemed “too edgy.” Apparently, it’s okay to have young adult novels about drug abuse (Go Ask Alice), physical abuse (Dreamland), eating disorders (Wintergirls) or urban violence (Autobiography of My Dead Brother), but God forbid we have an “edgy” adoption story that may or may not paint adoption as less than ideal. Rather, since adoptees are having difficult getting their stories in print, it appears that many are now using the Internet as their outlet to share their thoughts and stories. See my friend JaeRan Kim’s site: Harlow Monkey.  She hasn’t necessarily tried writing for young people, but her blog is an excellent example of unregulated, uncensored self-publishing that allows her to speak her mind. And you know what? (White) adoptive parents and other (white) people interested in adoption respect her honest, thoughtful and well-researched thoughts.

Anyway, read the rest of Laura’s insightful paper here.