Journal article

Theorizing Korean transracial adoptee experiences: Ambiguity, substitutability, and racial embodiment

Ryan Gustafsson

International Journal of Cultural Studies | SAGE Publications | Published : 2020


This article articulates a critical phenomenological account of the being of the Korean transracial adoptee, through an analysis of three fundamental interrelated experiences. First, I argue that adoptee being is marked by epistemological ambiguity, or the impossibility of knowing and the ambiguous value of any knowledge gained. Second, the arbitrary sense of one’s place and identity contribute to a sense of substitutability among adoptees. Drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s concept of the body schema, I then argue that for the Korean adoptee, racial difference is inscribed in the body schema as absence. The article ends with a discussion of the complexities of racial embodiment that underpin adopte..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers