Those that Fly: Michaela DePrince and the Transnational Politics of Rescue

  • Sarah Olutola University of Ottawa, Human Rights Research and Education Centre
Keywords: transnational adoption, human rights, humanitarianism, youth, child soldiers, war orphans, african cultural studies, African literary studies, young adult literature, critical race studies

Abstract

This article analyzes Taking Flight, a memoir written by former African war-orphan-turned-ballerina Michaela DePrince with her white adoptive mother Elaine DePrince. Through an analysis of DePrince’s narrative, this article seeks to lay out how the privileged international movement of African youths uncomfortably aligns with more violent forms of inter and intra-national movement, including child soldiering as well as the shutting down of borders to other racialized children who do not meet the ideological requirements implied by discourses of childhood innocence. By thinking through the acceptance and rejection of black and racialized children across borders, this article will not only interrogate the Western framework of humanitarianism but also explore how the subjective formations of a rescued African child can either challenge or be contained in service of the hegemonic terminology of human rights that makes her movement possible.

 

DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2020.0006

Author Biography

Sarah Olutola, University of Ottawa, Human Rights Research and Education Centre

Dr. Sarah Olutola is the 2018-2019 Gordon F. Henderson Postdoctoral Fellow and ongoing member of the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre. Her current research concerns youth culture, postcolonialism, and representations of race in popular media culture. She has edited special issues and published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Safundi, Popular Music and Society, and Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture and Social Justice.

Published
2020-08-27
How to Cite
Olutola, S. (2020). Those that Fly: Michaela DePrince and the Transnational Politics of Rescue. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 12(1), 97-121. Retrieved from http://jeunessejournal.ca/index.php/yptc/article/view/494
Section
Articles