Theses Master's

Between Essentialisms: An Exploration of Non-binary Racial Identity and Placemaking

Burchell, Riley

Over the past forty years, the practice of transracial adoption has become an increasingly pervasive occurrence, specifically as it relates to the extraction of infants and children from East Asian countries to the United States. While this increase in prevalence has been noted and corroborated by state and country data as well as academic research conducted on the topic, little has been pursued that establishes its significance in terms of individual, community and place-based identity development.

This research aims to evaluate the effect of place on East Asian transracial adoptee identity development in these multiple contexts. Specifically, it focuses on the experience of East Asian transracial adoptees in New York City and the ways in which members of this community employ spatial, social, and cultural placemaking practices in their efforts to create landscapes of belonging reflective of their unique identities. Informed by a review of pertinent literature across the disciplines of sociology, psychology, geography and urban planning, survey responses from East Asian transracial adoptees, and interviews with placemaking and adoptee community development professionals and East Asian transracial adoptees in the New York City area, this thesis proposes a new conception of placemaking that addresses the liminal experience of the East Asian transracial adoptee identity and carries implications for placemaking for other non-binary identities.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Meisterlin, Leah M.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 12, 2021