Reclamation and acclamation; rejection and abjection.

I stumbled across this article in Asia One, which was discussing the appointment of Fleur Pellerin as a minister in the new French government. The article states concerning the Korean-born Frenchwoman:

Newspapers in Seoul on Friday splashed frontpages with her picture and carried stories about her life while the ruling New Frontier Party expressed hope her appointment will help cement friendly ties between Seoul and Paris.

The article sums up so much about the relationship between our source countries and the First World in terms of “making it” and what it means to “do good” by your place of origin. Here the place of birth is reclaiming and acclaiming someone it let go in the first place: the class of the local comprador finds common ground with the class of the adopter.

The idea that France in any way has managed to integrate its minorities is ludicrous, as seen by the suburban riots of a few years back, as well as the rise of the right-wing National Front and their success in the recent elections. I remember when I lived in Paris how they would set up their tables and yell at us “nègres” and “bougnoules” to “go back to where we came from”.

This local identification with the receiving country explains, then, how some of us who return are rejected wholesale by this same class for not measuring up to its view of itself; for criticizing this collusion between trafficker and purchaser; for being critical of the myriad other ways in which the local kowtowers define themselves by those who oppress them. We become the abject to be feared and rejected.

So I want to know: Is there really any soul searching going on in Korea? Taiwan? Guatemala? Russia? Lebanon? Spain? Etc.? How do we as adoptees fit in inadvertently or otherwise to the grand charade of the emigrant narrative by simply “rising to the top”? On the flip side, what hope is there for those who resist this in any way? Can adoptive parents really remove themselves from this differential of power and its consequences?

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3 thoughts on “Reclamation and acclamation; rejection and abjection.

  1. Personally, I don’t like how Pellerin’s being adopted has any bearing on anything. Once again, we are labeled by what was done to us, ostensibly for us, and pitted against one another in a judgement of “successful” or “unsuccessful.”

    I wonder, not having been to France, but having seen documentaries on the plight of brown people there, who really are NOT treated equally, if also we are seeing yet another instance of Asians being considered the “model minority?” Or, is an “adoptee” Asian (as an even more sanitized symbol) being used/held up as a super model minority to wipe away criticisms of racism?

    It IS really annoying when Korea co-opts “successful” adoptee struggles as a symbol of the personal strength of all KOREANS. It is right for Hankyeorae to criticize such twisted nationalism. But on the other hand, I think Koreans inherently feel a twang of shame when any Korean makes the news and it turns out they were adopted. If the choir speaks to the choir, it doesn’t really accomplish much, except maybe strengthen solidarity against those being critiqued.

    Is there soul searching? I don’t really think so. I think people have been living with this kind of conflict for decades and will continue to do so. I think their arteries and hearts have hardened and they are deliberately blind to their own collaboration. I also think co-opting the glory of “successful” adoptees is all about validating their rejection of them in the first place. I think the whole adoption industry is about self validation.

    Things will not change because of them, but because young women will stop letting men, their families , & society oppress them.

  2. It’s an interesting question. When I lived there, the North African/African population was still within Paris city limits, and had not been pushed out completely to the suburbs yet. I do recall there being a very small Chinese neighborhood, but nothing that would qualify as a “Chinatown” as we know them in say San Francisco. I think the history of French Indo-China/Viet Nam/Laos/Cambodia is different in terms of French former colonies than, say, French Africa; perhaps there was less a view of France as a destination, as much as the States, or a more complete rupture from the former colonist. Anytime I hear about a French person from the former Asian colonies, it is a writer, or an artist, or of this professional class. I think the other reference point is tourism, where you have much more tourists from Asia than, say, Africa.

    I agree there’s no soul searching within the bourgeois class which identifies with the foreigner. I receive a different reaction from those on the lower end of this scale.

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