Kimberly D. McKee

Dec 3, 2023

Adoption Fantasies

The Fetishization of Asian Adoptees from Girlhood to Womanhood

Ohio State University Press 2023

In Adoption Fantasies: The Fetishization of Asian Adoptees from Girlhood to Womanhood (Ohio State UP, 2023), Kimberly D. McKee explores the ways adopted Asian women and girls are situated at a nexus of objectifications—as adoptees and as Asian American women—and how they negotiate competing expectations based on sensationalist and fictional portrayals of adoption found in US popular culture. McKee traces the life cycle of the adopted Asian woman, from the rendering of infant adoptee bodies in the white US imaginary, to Asian American fantasies of adoption, to encounters with the hypersexualization of Asian and Asian American women and girls in US popular culture. Drawing on adoption studies, Asian American studies, critical ethnic studies, gender studies, and cultural studies, McKee analyzes the mechanisms informing adoptees’ interactions with consumers of this media—adoptive parents and families and strangers alike—and how those exchanges and that media influence adoptees’ negotiations with the world. From Modern Family to Sex and the City to the notoriety surrounding Soon-Yi Previn and Woody Allen, among many other instances, McKee scrutinizes the fetishization and commodification of women and girls adopted from Asia to understand their racialized experiences.

Julia H. Lee is professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of three books: Interracial Encounters: Reciprocal Representations in African and Asian American Literatures, 1896-1937 (New York University Press, 2011), Understanding Maxine Hong Kingston (University of South Carolina Press, 2018), and The Racial Railroad (New York University Press, 2022). With Professor Josephine Lee, she is co-editor of Asian American Literature in Transition, 1850-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2021), a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2022. You can find her on Instagram @julia.x.lee.

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