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Queer Genealogies across the Color Line and into Children’s Literature: Autobiographical Picture Books, Interraciality, and Gay Family Formation

Department of English-Speaking Cultures, University of Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
Genealogy 2018, 2(4), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy2040043
Received: 11 July 2018 / Revised: 13 October 2018 / Accepted: 13 October 2018 / Published: 20 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy and Multiracial Family Histories)
Life writing scholar Julia Watson critiques the practice of genealogy as “in every sense conservative” (300) because it traditionally charts and enshrines a family’s collective biography through biologistic, heteronormative, and segregated routes. My Americanist contribution, however, zooms in on a recent development of autobiographical works that establish narratives of origin beyond normative boundaries of race and heterosexual reproduction. A number of predominantly white queer parents of black adoptees have turned their family history into children’s read-along books as a medium for pedagogical empowerment that employs first-person narration in the presumable voice of the adoptee. In Arwen and Her Daddies (2009), for instance, Arwen invites the reader into a story of family formation with the following opening words: “Do you know how I and my Dads became a family?” My analysis understands these objects as verbal-visual origin stories which render intelligible a conversion from differently racialized strangers into kin. I frame this mode of narration as ‘adoptee ventriloquism’ that might tell us more about adult desires of queers for familial recognition than about the needs of their adopted children. View Full-Text
Keywords: queer kinship; genealogy; critical mixed race studies; queer family; children’s literature; gay fatherhood; queer interracial kinship; interracial family; life writing queer kinship; genealogy; critical mixed race studies; queer family; children’s literature; gay fatherhood; queer interracial kinship; interracial family; life writing
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Essi, C. Queer Genealogies across the Color Line and into Children’s Literature: Autobiographical Picture Books, Interraciality, and Gay Family Formation. Genealogy 2018, 2, 43.

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