Event — IIAS Lunch Lecture

Trafficking Asian children through international adoptions: a discussion on the making of \"Shambala Junction\"

'Shambala Junction' won the 2016 Virginia Prize for Fiction in the United Kingdom. In this talk, Prof. Dipika Mukherjee (Northwestern University, USA) will discuss the research that went into the writing of this novel.

Pls. note: Lunch will be provided, registration is required.

Lecture by Prof. Dipika Mukherjee (Buffett Institute for Global Studies, Northwestern University, USA)

Celebrity adoptions – like those by Madonna or Brangelina – gloss over the realities of the real-world problems underlying international adoptions. As recently as on Feb 6, 2017, the BBC covered Madonna’s adoption of Malawi twins; what doesn’t appear in this happy picture is the other child she adopted in 2006, David, who was not an orphan as his father (and grandmother) were alive and Madonna had to fight a legal battle for his custody.

Widespread corruption in international adoptions is a human rights issue, but there is no outcry because the children are frequently taken from impoverished homes into a more affluent life -- as shown in the movie Lion -- and for many, that alone justifies the means. This is a highly contentious issue, but in a market where rich foreigners pay in thousands of dollars to adopt and children are sold for mere hundreds, there is the potential for corruption, and this is where Shambala Junction starts its fictional story to shed light on a real problem.

Shambala Junction won the 2016 Virginia Prize for Fiction in the United Kingdom. This talk will discuss the research that went into the writing of this novel.

The speaker

Dipika Mukherjee is a writer and sociolinguist associated with the IIAS since 2007. She co-edited Language Shifts Among Malaysian Minorities as Effects Of National Language Planning: Speaking in Many Tongues, published by Amsterdam University Press in 2011. Her award-winning novels include Shambala Junction, which won the UK Virginia Prize for Fiction (Aurora Metro, 2016, UK) and her debut novel was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and republished as Ode to Broken Things (Repeater, 2016, UK). Her short story collection is Rules of Desire (Fixi, 2015, Malaysia) and she has edited four anthologies of Southeast Asian stories. She is a Juror on the The Neustadt International Prize for Literature 2018.

"Shambala Junction discusses the need for adventure, the nag of curiosity, and passion for doing what’s right through romantic, fluid prose that takes firm hold of the plot to produce an invigorating, engaging, and dynamic story."  World Literature Today Nota Benes, May 2017

“What is really interesting about this book, aside from Iris’ coming of age and the love story, is how Mukherjee explores the richness and diversity of the Indian cultural landscape and the distinctive characters she has created” 
“With a natural story-telling flair, Mukherjee has also added another plotline, one which is both a controversial issue and very current: baby trafficking, which has been on the rise in India”
 Star2.com book review: Shambala Junction by Dipika Mukherjee

Registration (required)

Please register via the webform below if you would like to attend this lunch lecture.

About IIAS Lunch Lectures

Every month, one of IIAS' affilated fellows will give an informal presentation about his/her work-in-progress for colleagues and other interested parties. IIAS organises these lunch lectures to give the research community an opportunity to freely discuss ongoing research and exchange thoughts and ideas. Lunch lectures are sometimes also organised for visiting scholars.