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Closure: The Afterlives of Adoption

Closure: The Afterlives of Adoption
170 St. George Street, JHB Room 100
Time: Feb 8th, 4:00 pm End: Feb 8th, 5:30 pm
Interest Categories: Women/Gender, Women & Gender Studies (FAS), Diaspora/Transnational, 2000-
Talk by Kathryn A. Mariner

The Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies presents

Professor Kathryn A. Mariner

Kathryn A. Mariner
University of Rochester
“Closure: The Afterlives of Adoption”
Thursday February 8, 2018 from 4:00 to 5:30
Room: JHB100A, Jackman Humanities Building
Co-sponsored with School of Social Work

In 2015, after more than three decades of service and several periods of financial insecurity, First Steps—a small, non-profit, private adoption agency located just outside Chicago—closed its doors permanently. This paper explores the agency’s organizational death and afterlife, and the ways in which adoption itself is a kind of afterlife to legacies of racial and economic abandonment in the United States. In it, I examine multiple notions of closure, foreclosure, and enclosure. Mediated by a small group of white female social workers, adoption at First Steps brought together individuals—low-income pregnant women of color and white middle and upper-middle class prospective adoptive parents—whose everyday lives would otherwise rarely coincide amid Chicago’s stark race and class segregation. Before its closure, First Steps was a liminal space where vastly different subjectivities ‘touched’ in the service of both the creation and dissolution of kinship ties. How do we study and write (fore)closure as an outcome of institutional precarity? And what can the quiet disappearance of a small adoption agency reveal about much broader socioeconomic shifts in the United States in the decade after the Recession?

This event is free and open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, contact the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at 416 946 8464.

Kathryn A. Mariner


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