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Forever half Ethiopian: Challenging cultural and biological differences in the heart of the family

(2010)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Although there has been growing academic interest in the tendency among transnational adoptive parents to incorporate aspects of the child’s so-called birth culture into their lives, much less attention is paid to the role these culture keeping practices play in the families’ quest for full citizenship. By contrast, this paper attempts to elucidate culture keeping’s underlying objective to realize full inclusion. By drawing on ethnographic research among Flemish (prospective) adoptive families with children from Ethiopia in a range of different settings (such as casual gatherings of adoptive parents, meetings organized by adoption agencies, adoptive parents’ organizations, etc.), this paper tries to reveal the strategies behind this remarkable practice and frames it in broader cosmopolitanist, multiculturalist or consumerist tendencies of dealing with difference in Flemish society. The fieldwork results suggest that in the light of nativist and biologist ideologies full belonging of the adoptive child is often denied. That is why parents search for ways to maximize feelings of inclusion by the imagining and moulding of a transnational or cosmopolitan citizenship for their children. I argue that these explicit and marked attempts of socialization towards a more inclusive citizenship can be designated as a practice of ‘self-conscious citizenship’, in parallel to Signe Howell’s ‘self-conscious kinship’. Whereas the conscious kinship practices aim to bring the child into a significant and permanent relation to its family, the conscious citizenship practices tend to evoke some form of imagined belonging in a cosmopolitan or transnational world – and this in face of homogenizing tendencies in Flemish society.

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Chicago
De Graeve, Katrien. 2010. “Forever Half Ethiopian: Challenging Cultural and Biological Differences in the Heart of the Family.” In .
APA
De Graeve, K. (2010). Forever half Ethiopian: Challenging cultural and biological differences in the heart of the family. Presented at the Adoption: Secret histories, public policies.
Vancouver
1.
De Graeve K. Forever half Ethiopian: Challenging cultural and biological differences in the heart of the family. 2010.
MLA
De Graeve, Katrien. “Forever Half Ethiopian: Challenging Cultural and Biological Differences in the Heart of the Family.” 2010. Print.
@inproceedings{1078811,
  abstract     = {Although there has been growing academic interest in the tendency among transnational adoptive parents to incorporate aspects of the child{\textquoteright}s so-called birth culture into their lives, much less attention is paid to the role these culture keeping practices play in the families{\textquoteright} quest for full citizenship. By contrast, this paper attempts to elucidate culture keeping{\textquoteright}s underlying objective to realize full inclusion. By drawing on ethnographic research among Flemish (prospective) adoptive families with children from Ethiopia in a range of different settings (such as  casual gatherings of adoptive parents, meetings organized by adoption agencies, adoptive parents{\textquoteright} organizations, etc.), this paper tries to reveal the strategies behind this remarkable practice and frames it in broader cosmopolitanist, multiculturalist or consumerist tendencies of dealing with difference in Flemish society. 

The fieldwork results suggest that in the light of nativist and biologist ideologies full belonging of the adoptive child is often denied. That is why parents search for ways to maximize feelings of inclusion by the imagining and moulding of a transnational or cosmopolitan citizenship for their children. I argue that these explicit and marked attempts of socialization towards a more inclusive citizenship can be designated as a practice of {\textquoteleft}self-conscious citizenship{\textquoteright}, in parallel to Signe Howell{\textquoteright}s {\textquoteleft}self-conscious kinship{\textquoteright}. Whereas the conscious kinship practices aim to bring the child into a significant and permanent relation to its family, the conscious citizenship practices tend to evoke some form of imagined belonging in a cosmopolitan or transnational world -- and this in face of homogenizing tendencies in Flemish society.},
  author       = {De Graeve, Katrien},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {MIT, Cambridge, MA, US},
  pages        = {1},
  title        = {Forever half Ethiopian: Challenging cultural and biological differences in the heart of the family},
  year         = {2010},
}