Kinship Secrets and Narrative Work: The Shifting Political Economy of Adoption in Vietnam

Kinship Secrets and Narrative Work: The Shifting Political Economy of Adoption in Vietnam Abstract: Vietnam has a long history of diverse forms of adoption. Yet contemporary domestic adoption remains largely invisible, with families often keeping it secret. The three narratives of secret adoption examined here illuminate the complex dynamics that have naturalized the middle-class biological nuclear family as the ideal for a market economy. As women narratively perform kin-work to make such a family visible and real, they render invisible other relations of blood and desire. Enmeshed in classed, gendered and intimate dynamics of transparency and secrecy, adoptive kinship in Vietnam delineates new subjectivities, affects and forms of political economy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

Kinship Secrets and Narrative Work: The Shifting Political Economy of Adoption in Vietnam

Kinship Secrets and Narrative Work: The Shifting Political Economy of Adoption in Vietnam


SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia Vol. 32, No. 2 (2017), pp. 260–90 DOI: 10.1355/sj32-2b © 2017 ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute ISSN 0217-9520 print / ISSN 1793-2858 electronic Kinship Secrets and Narrative Work: The Shifting Political Economy of Adoption in Vietnam Ann Marie Leshkowich Vietnam has a long history of diverse forms of adoption. Yet contemporary domestic adoption remains largely invisible, with families often keeping it secret. The three narratives of secret adoption examined here illuminate the complex dynamics that have naturalized the middle-class biological nuclear family as the ideal for a market economy. As women narratively perform kin-work to make such a family visible and real, they render invisible other relations of blood and desire. Enmeshed in classed, gendered and intimate dynamics of transparency and secrecy, adoptive kinship in Vietnam delineates new subjectivities, affects and forms of political economy. Keywords: adoption, Vietnam, kin-work, narrative, political economy. My interest in domestic adoption in Vietnam began in the 1990s, when I was conducting research in Ho Chi Minh City’s famous Bến Thà nh marketplace (Leshkowich 2014a). The market is a must-see stop for tourists. Among them were foreigners in the process of adopting a child from Vietnam — racial differences between the parents, most of them white North Americans or Europeans, and their Asian infants or toddlers making evident the form of their kinship relationship. Seeing me sitting on a plastic stool near a stall and chatting with its proprietor in Vietnamese, some of these visitors would pause to ask what I was doing, how I learned Vietnamese and whether I enjoyed living in Ho Chi Minh City. They often posed cultural questions, such as when women wore áo dà i or why Vietnamese 17-J02138 SOJOURN 02.indd 260 The Shifting Political Economy of Adoption...
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Publisher
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Copyright
Copyright © Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
ISSN
1793-2858
Publisher site
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Abstract

Abstract: Vietnam has a long history of diverse forms of adoption. Yet contemporary domestic adoption remains largely invisible, with families often keeping it secret. The three narratives of secret adoption examined here illuminate the complex dynamics that have naturalized the middle-class biological nuclear family as the ideal for a market economy. As women narratively perform kin-work to make such a family visible and real, they render invisible other relations of blood and desire. Enmeshed in classed, gendered and intimate dynamics of transparency and secrecy, adoptive kinship in Vietnam delineates new subjectivities, affects and forms of political economy.

Journal

Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast AsiaInstitute of Southeast Asian Studies

Published: Jul 27, 2017

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