Finding my place in Dixie: race, place and the politics of belonging through the eyes of a Korean adoptee

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University of Alabama Libraries

No matter if people perceive me as white or Asian, the messy realities of my transnationality leave me stuck somewhere in between multiple identities. I am Asian by birth but often identify as white because of my adoption into a white family. Yet, because of the stigma against adoptees in South Korea and the color line in the South, I remain situated somewhere between black, white and Other. Living in a region where racial lines have been clearly defined, my identity is indefinable. I view this world through multiple lenses, yet feel like I do not belong anywhere. This autobiographical exploration is an attempt to understand how place has constructed my identity even as I struggle to name it and take control of it in a way that critiques the old binaries within the Deep South as well as the gendered assumptions about what a southern woman is or should be. South Korea’s strong beliefs regarding ethnic nationalism and the primacy of blood kinship are problematic for transnational adoptees like me and impact the spaces that I occupy. I will examine the ways in which my identity as a Korean adoptee problematizes the South’s racial dichotomy, the politics of belonging and the archetype of white southern womanhood.

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Educational leadership