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American Ethnologist

Backed by papers: Undoing persons, histories, and return

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Abstract

Deportations of long-term U.S. residents to El Salvador and roots trips that Swedish transnational adoptees make to their countries of birth attempt to reconnect individuals to their origins. As they (re)connect, however, such journeys dismantle, reconfiguring the original departure—emigration or adoption—in ways that can destabilize current, future, and past selves and the national and familial belongings in which these selves are embedded. By examining the paths and disjunctures that journeys “back” entail, we consider the significance of “return” for the production of legal knowledge.

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