Critical Perspectives on Heritage from Below
Edited by Hamzah Muzaini and Claudio Minca
Chapter 8: Adoption, genealogical bewilderment and biological heritage bricolage
Closed adoptions – where birth and adoption records are legally sealed to obscure adoptees’ biological parentage – were once the norm in many Western Anglophone countries. Grassroots resistance to closed adoption relied upon the belief that deprivation of knowledge of their true biological origins could lead to psychological trauma among adoptees. In this chapter, the author reflects on her own mother’s sense of deprivation, her desire for a coherent origin story and her consequent process of cobbling together disparate analogue, digital and biotechnical fragments of legally, religiously, scientifically, commercially and familiarly authorised and authorising heritages from among diverse resources rendered intelligible, relevant and truthful by societal and (bio)technological transformations over time. In so doing, the author calls attention to complicated power relations in everyday personal heritage practices that challenge the simplistic pitting of ‘heritage from below’ (Iain Robertson, Heritage from Below, 2012) against ‘Authorised Heritage Discourse’ (AHD) (Laurajane Smith, Uses of Heritage, 2006).
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