Making “American” Families: Transnational Adoption and U.S. Latin America Policy

Date: 2006-01-01

This book chapter touches on adoption issues in many Latin American states - including all the cases tagged above.

Making “American” Families: Transnational Adoption and U.S. Latin America Policy
Laura Briggs

Dr. Briggs is an Associate Professor of Women's Studies. She also holds affiliate appointments in History, Anthropology, and Latin American Studies. She received her Ph.D. from Brown University's Department of American Civilization.

She is the author of Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico and is currently working on a book on transnational and transracial adoption. Some of her other research interests include eugenics, reproductive technologies, and education and technology. Many of her published works, including current and past syllabi, are available for download on this site. Please respect the author's original work and contact her with any questions.

Briggs, Laura. "Making American Families: Transnational Adoption and U.S. Latin America Policy," in Ann Laura Stoler, ed. Haunted by Empire (Duke, 2006), 606-642.

Excerpt below - complete book chapter attached.

       "This disjuncture, between Latin American ideologies of U.S. exploitation and a U.S. belief in our capacity to rescue “them,” is both a set of competing stories about what happens to actual children and, implicitly, an allegory for all of U.S. foreign policy. Díaz González’s account and Elizabeth Bartholet’s are perfect, mirror opposites. Bartolet's Latin Americans are soul-murderers, leaving parentless children crying on playgrounds, Diaz'ss U.S. Americans are child-murderers, mutilating their bodies for organs; her Latin Americans are terrorists, thieves, and communists, his U.S. Americans are heartless capitalists, child rapists, and kidnappers; Latin Americans are rendered as too poor to raise children properly, U.S. Americans, as too rich to love anybody. Such caricatures are not entirely false.
        Bartholet’s account tracks the disrupted state of families, economies, and states, resulting in some measure from U.S. Cold War anticommunist foreign policy, first, and post-1989, neoliberal economics, anti-terrorism and anti-drug policies have supported right-wing military dictatorships, , death squads, and the privatization or elimination of broad swathes of social services; Díaz González’s account tracks a Latin American blame of the United States for the widespread violence and upheaval of the post-WWII period. Neither position—that the United States is innocent, nor that the United States is responsible for all bad things in Latin America—is particularly accurate, but both make sense to people."


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