CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

The “origin question” runs through contemporary debate over filiation ; today, the initial conditions of an adopted child’s conception and/or upbringing – prior to arrival in his or her adoptive family – should be divulged, ostensibly for the benefit of his or her psychic wellbeing. By focusing on international adoption (based in particular on research conducted in Ethiopia), this article explores the social and political consequences of this new injunction to “transparency,” and questions the practical procedures that allow such a story to be constructed. Putting “your” past into words and having “access” to it are individual actions that are partly conditioned by States’ strength and archival policies, revealing the public aspect of (auto) biographical accounts.

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