Keynote Speakers

Dr. Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a foundational figure in what has become contemporary queer and gender studies, defining the field in monographs such as Gender Trouble (1990), Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (2000), and countless other books and essays. Her research probes the relationships among gender, sexuality, and kinship constructions. In recognition of her transformative thinking, Professor Butler has received numerous grants and awards, including an Andrew Mellon Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in the Humanities (2009-13) and a Guggenheim fellowship (1999). She has published over twenty books and many notable chapters and articles.


Dr. Julie Pelletier is Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Winnipeg and recently published the co-edited collection, Gambling on Authenticity: Gaming, the Noble Savage, and the Not-So-New Indian (2017). Trained as a cultural anthropologist specializing in Indigenous cultures and Indigenizing the academy, Professor Pelletier is also a first mother who relinquished her child for adoption and maintains a meaningful relationship with her daughter. Professor Pelletier’s lecture, “Thoughts from a Birth/First Mother on the Intersections of Culture, Class, and Profession,” touches on the trauma of government and missionary removal of Indigenous children from their families. Professor Pelletier’s reflections on being an Indigenous first parent is informed by her scholarship but also her social activism.


Adoption Filmmaker Panel Featuring Deann Borshay Liem and Amandine Gay on cinematic representation of transnational/transracial adoption experience.


Deann Borshay Liem is a Korean adoptee, a director, a writer, and a producer of independent films with more than twenty years of experience. Director of the iconic transnational/transracial adoption film, First Person Plural (2000, Sundance), Borshay Liem documented her reunion with her birth family in Korea. Borshay Liem’s subsequent adoption-related projects—the award-winning In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee (2010) and Geographies of Kinship—The Korean Adoption Story (in progress)—keep probing the history and personal cost of Korean adoption. Among other projects, Borshay Liem co-directed Memory of a Forgotten War (2013) that documents the long-lasting impact of the Korean War on civilians on both sides of the DMZ. She is a recipient of a Rockefeller Film/Video Fellowship and a former director of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). Currently, she is the head of Mu Films—a non-profit documentary production company that focuses on representing untold stories from underrepresented communities in the interest of social justice and deeper cultural understanding.

Amandine Gay is a French transracial adoptee of African descent, a filmmaker, a scholar, an Afrofeminist, a social activist, and a journalist. She is the author of Ouvrir la Voix (Speak Up/Make Your Way in English, 2016), a documentary that gives voice to twenty-four French women with African origins in order to reflect on European Black women’s experiences of identity. Gay is the co-author of “Diasporic Conversations: Anglophone and Francophone Adoptees of the African Diaspora Encounter Each Other” published in Adoption Today (September 2016). Her second Master’s Degree in sociology is focused on transracial adoption, and she is often invited as a speaker on transracial adoption and Afrofeminism. As an artist and a social activist, Gay uses her personal adoption story and scholarly background to increase public interest in the politics of adoption.