Dolphins, Dying Rooms, and Destabilized Demographics, Or: Loving Anna in a Transmodern World

Alice JardineHarvard University
Vol. 21, No. 2 (Fall 2002), 333-345

This personal essay examines the process of adopting Anna, one of China’s many lost daughters, amid the maddeningly reactionary 1980s and 1990s in America. Because of the one child per family policy in China, adopting baby girls is often the only option that these children have for attaining a family. The essay, deeply personal and reflective, examines the spread of postmodern thought in the academy in the second half of the twentieth century and tries to reconcile single-motherhood (or “Mothers by Choice”) and destabilized demographics (from the Anglo-white woman to the “Family of Color”) with the still strict and unyielding academic life. The shifting paradigms of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries lead to what the essay argues is a transmodern world, a global epistemology still so new that it cannot yet be defined as reality by the academics and philosophers who see themselves at the forefront of providing such definitions. Yet this is the world in which Anna, and many other children like her, will grow up, and the world that this essay, through various discussions of academia and adoption, attempts to define.


Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]