The Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture announces:

The 5th International Conference on Adoption and Culture

Adoption: Crossing Boundaries

Conference Website:
March 27 – 30, 2014

Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

Call for Proposals

ASAC’s biennial conferences feature stories and histories of adoption as explored by writers, artists, and scholars across the disciplines, especially the humanities. Adoptions and the lives of adoptees always involve crossing boundaries, whether  the boundaries of  families, the boundaries of races, the boundaries of nations, the boundaries of  aboriginal peoples and others, the boundaries of communities, the boundaries of law, or all of these borders. This conference takes up these themes and threads, and also encourages other kinds of boundary-crossing—boundaries between disciplines; between adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, and social workers; boundaries between creative writers, scholars, and activists. And we extend our topic across other boundaries by considering similar issues with regard to foster care and assisted reproduction.

The conference includes academic work from a wide range of scholarly disciplines and areas—literature, film and popular culture and performance studies, cultural studies, history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, religion, political science, law, women’s and gender studies— as well as film, creative writing, graphic art, music, drama, or productions in other media. We encourage interdisciplinary panels, presentations, and productions.

Keynote speakers:

 Jackie Kay, Professor of Creative Writing, Newcastle University (UK), Scottish-Nigerian adoptee, author of the groundbreaking volume of poetry The Adoption Papers, the adoption memoir Red Dust Road, and many other works of poetry, prose, and drama.

 Laura Briggs, Professor and Chair of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of Somebody’s Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption (Duke UP, 2012), the winner of the James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians

 Featured films will include:  Somewhere Between (2012), a documentary which follows four teenage girls adopted from China; Resilience (2009), which shows a Korean birthmother who searches for and meets her son in the US; and Any Day Now, (2012) a fictionalized account of a gay couple’s attempt to adopt a special-needs child they have fostered (the script  is based in part on events in Florida, and we hope to have some of the parties at the conference.)

We invite proposals for papers and panels that:

  • Analyze literary, cinematic, dramatic, musical, visual,  dance, popular culture, or performance art representations of  boundary crossing in adoption, foster care, or other nonstandard means of family formation or child care, and boundary crossing in narratives of the lives of adoptees, adoptive parents, and/or birthparents
  • Study boundary-crossing in adoption and other reproductive, family and caring structures in historical, anthropological, philosophical, sociological, legal, religious, political, gendered, LGBTQ, and/or psychological perspectives.
  • Promote dialogue between people positioned differently with regard to adoption because of their life experience, profession, and/or discipline.

We expect that most papers will run about 20 minutes  and that panel proposals should allow some time for discussion (assuming that panels will be about an hour and fifteen minutes ).

We also invite creative presentations (writing, film, drama, graphic arts, other media, etc.)  on border crossing in relation to adoption. Writing samples should ordinarily be less than 10 pages.

Please send 200-word proposals for papers or samples of creative work, a cv or resume along with your proposal, and links if you are working in visual or multimedia, to Give your proposal, cv, and/or writing sample a title that includes your last name.

 Proposal deadline July 15, 2013

 Applications from graduate students interested in submitting papers are invited for a travel grant award of up to $500. Awards will be given based on quality of paper submitted by July 15 (not just 200-word proposal), cost of travel, contribution of papers to scope of conference, and amount we have available.

 A conference website is under development and we will soon post information about registration, accommodation, and travel. For additional information, contact Eric Walker at

 Conference program planning committee includes:

 Eric Walker, Department of English, Florida State University, co-chair

Marianne Novy, University of Pittsburgh, co-chair

Karen Balcom, McMaster University

Emily Hipchen, University of West Georgia

Margaret Homans, Yale University