Negotiating identity: post-colonial ethics and transnational adoption

Pal Ahluwalia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the overwhelming desire of transnational adoptees to establish a connection with their origins in order to both come to terms with the past and develop an understanding of their identity. It considers the ethical ramifications of the commodification of human bodies. It is suggested that the idea of displacement is most helpful in approaching questions of transnational adoption. In this way, we can look at transnational adoption as a ‘beginning’—one that disappears into the present moment, becoming the constitutive reality underlying Derrida's concern with displacement—rather than its origin. For, what does the quest for a return to the point of origin entail? Transnational adoptees, when they embark on the journey of reclaiming their past, of coming to terms with their sense of loss, realise that there is no simple comfort in returning—that they are inevitably caught in the two worlds in which they co-exist. It is through this recognition of the traces that are contained in them, through this displacement, that they are able to negotiate identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-67
JournalJournal of Global Ethics
Issue number1
Early online date2 Jul 2007
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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