Troubling the ‘Happy Family’: US Liberalism and Narratives of Transnational Adoption and Immigration from China
Journal / Book Title
Comparative American Studies An International Journal
This essay connects adoption and immigration from China by considering the relationship between the adoptee and the Chinese nanny hired to care for her. I examine news media alongside Wendy Lee’s 2008 novel, Happy Family, which portrays the adoptive family through the perspective of a Fujianese immigrant domestic worker. Transnational adoption from China emerged in the early 1990s as undocumented immigration from the Fujian province rose, representing a major shift in Chinese immigration. These practices have been apprehended divergently in mainstream discourses. This essay approaches the family as a site of neoliberal privatization that frames adoption in terms of inclusion into US national ideologies of race, gender, and class, while undocumented immigration from China has been framed through exclusion. I argue that the nanny destabilizes the construction of the family as a space of depoliticized inclusion through her labor, revealing the neoliberal inequalities that shape both adoption and immigration.
MSU Digital Commons Citation
Cheng, Emily, "Troubling the ‘Happy Family’: US Liberalism and Narratives of Transnational Adoption and Immigration from China" (2014). Department of English Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works. 34.
Cheng, Emily. “Troubling the ‘Happy Family’: US Liberalism and Narratives of Transnational Adoption and Immigration from China.” Comparative American Studies: An International Journal, vol. 12, no. 4, Dec. 2014, pp. 249–263.