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Challenging MonoHumanism: An Argument for Changing the Way We Think About Intercountry Adoption


Shani King


University of Florida, Levin College of Law

November 9, 2008

Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 30, 2009
University of Florida Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-10

Abstract:     
In Challenging MonoHumanism: An Argument for Changing the Way We Think About Intercountry Adoption, I argue that the way the West has constructed its way of thinking about intercountry adoption, a way of thinking which I have defined as MonoHumanism, fundamentally fails to reflect children's lives and cultures and regularly results in the violation of the internationally recognized human rights of children. Building on the work of leading post-colonial theorists and inspired by Michel Foucault's work on the power of discourse, this article is the first to critically explore the work of legal scholars from the past 20 years on the subject of intercountry adoption.

I have chosen the term MonoHumanism to represent the notion that the United States has substituted its own view of all non-American people or cultures for positive knowledge of them, facilitating the creation of the Western identity of self as the normative center. I suggest that we must reject our false construct of human society, cultural constructions, and racial prejudices if we are to protect the internationally recognized human rights of children.

In part, I aim to expose the centrality of MonoHumanism to our discourse on intercountry adoption and to explore how our discourse contributes to our violation of children's rights as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. After exploring how this argument fits into the current debate on intercountry adoption, I illustrate how a world without MonoHumanism might result in reforms responsive to the rights of children.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Keywords: Adoption, International, Children, Post-colonial, race, culture, family, CRC, Convention, Rights, Intercountry, Hague, Imperial, ICA, United, Nations

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Date posted: November 10, 2008 ; Last revised: April 15, 2009

Suggested Citation

King, Shani, Challenging MonoHumanism: An Argument for Changing the Way We Think About Intercountry Adoption (November 9, 2008). Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 30, 2009; University of Florida Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-10. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1298464

Contact Information

Shani King (Contact Author)
University of Florida, Levin College of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
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