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Sorry somehow? Narrating accountability, responsibility and the complicity of the British state for historic forced adoption

May 2 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Free admission, booking not required

IPUP Seminar

In 2022 a UK Parliamentary Committee inquiry reported that between 1949 and 1976 around 185,000 children of unmarried mothers were forcibly adopted, violating their right to family life.

In 2023 the UK Government recognised the harm this inflicted on mothers, fathers and adoptees alike, but fell short of offering a state apology despite saying ‘sorry’ 15 times in their reply to the inquiry report. Yet formal apologies have been forthcoming from devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland, despite the UK Government being responsible for policy and practice during the years in question.

Whilst demands for an apology have come primarily from campaigning groups led by birth mothers and adult adoptees, this paper explores Michael’s role as an academic in mediating and advancing their demands and supporting their narratives of lived experiences in archival research. He considers tensions between evidential complexity and simplified narratives, addressing competing audiences and publics, contested intellectual control through government, public, and media representation of research, and his own credibility as an academic given the politicised nature of involvement. Ultimately, narrating accountability, responsibility and the complicity of the British state for historic forced adoption requires some degree of involvement despite these tensions given the weight of evidence concerning this historical injustice within living memory.

This event is free of charge to attend and booking is not required to attend in-person.  If you wish to attend online, please register on Zoom

Venue is wheelchair accessible and has a hearing loop.


May 2
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Free admission, booking not required


University of York Open Lectures


Bowland Auditorium BS/005 Berrick Saul Building, Harewood Way, Heslington York YO105DD
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