Negotiating differences : transnational adoption, norwegianness and identity work
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Original versionZhao, Y. (2012). Negotiating differences: transnational adoption, norwegianness and identity work (Doctoral thesis). University of Nordland, Bodø
This dissertation explores how Norwegian transnational adoptees negotiate and deal with the transnational adoption-related differences when doing identity work in relation to Norwegianness. By doing so, it also sheds light on the inclusion/exclusion processes through which the Norwegian “we” is constructed, and how the boundaries demarcating this position are challenged and transcended. The notions of “looking different” and “being adopted” are examined as possible terms through which hierarchical differences are produced in relation to Norwegianness. The empirical analysis is built upon fourteen indepth interviews and one written life story with/by adult Norwegian transnational adoptees. Of the fourteen interviews, ten were face-to-face and four were computer mediated. The theoretical framework is mainly located within the field of feminist postcolonial studies, and the dissertation focuses especially on the following concepts: Othering, racialization, whiteness, hybridity, racism, majoritization/minoritization, and intersectionality. “Race” and gender are understood as social phenomena produced in social relations and in terms of embodied practices. The dissertation uses the concept of biocentrism to examine the meaning of adoption in relation to Norwegianness, and studies identity in terms of enactment. The dissertation introduces the concept of “outsider within” to underline the researcher’s position regarding her “object of study” as well as to critically re-read the research process. The author argues that being critical and reflexive about her own situatedness makes her analysis more rich and robust. The theoretical framework that examines the meaning of transnational adoption in relation to constructions of national identity is central to the dissertation. The dissertation concludes that adoptees are kinned not only to their adoptive family but also to the Norwegian “we”. Adoptees locate themselves in a position of privilege regarding their access to the nation, a position which those who have migrated to Norway cannot access. However, though adoptees experience themselves as belonging to the Norwegian majority, this belonging is systematically challenged.
Doctoral thesis (Ph.D.) – University of Nordland, 2012