Karen Balcom, McMaster University

Associate Professor History Hamilton, Ontario balcomk@mcmaster.ca Office: (905) 525-9140 ext. 24152

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Bio/Research

Karen Balcom holds a Ph.D. in Modern U.S. History and Women's History from Rutgers University (2002) and teaches in the History Department and the undergraduate Women's Studies minor as well as in the Graduate Program in Gender Studies and Feminist Research. She is an adjunct member of the School...

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Bio/Research

Karen Balcom holds a Ph.D. in Modern U.S. History and Women's History from Rutgers University (2002) and teaches in the History Department and the undergraduate Women's Studies minor as well as in the Graduate Program in Gender Studies and Feminist Research. She is an adjunct member of the School of Social Work. She does research on the history of transnational and transracial adoption, explored through geminist research methodologies. She is the author of The Traffic in Babies: Cross Border Adoption and Baby-Selling Between the United States and Canada, 1930-1972 (University of Toronto Press, 2011). This book uses illicit cross-border adoptions as a case study in the ability (or inability) of social workers, bureaucrats and politicians to collaborate across the boundaries separating provincial, state and national welfare systems. There is a particular focus in this work on the transnational networks of femal social workers.

Dr. Balcom's new research project focuses on the interplay between the domestic and the transnational in the regulation of transnational adoption to the United States in the period 1945-1975. This work is supported by a SSHRC Standard Research Grant. In 2009, Dr. Balcom is spent 6 months as a Visiting Scholar in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, where collaborated with a Melbourne-based research group on the history of adoption in post WWII Australia.

Dr. Balcom also has research interests in the development and application of feminist pedagogy, in the life of Canadian social reformer Charlotte Whitton, and in women's transnational activist networks. For the History Department, Dr. Balcom supervises graduate students working in U.S. history, women's history, the history of social movements, and the history of social and health policy. In Gender Studies and Feminist Research, Dr. Balcom's work is mostly closely linked to the theme area of Work, Politics, Social Movements and Public Policy.

Dr. Balcom's teaching includes graduate courses on Masculinity and Femininity in the Twentieth Century United States (HIS 752/open to GSFR students) and Doing Research in Feminist and Gender Studies (GSFR 701). Her undergraduate offerings include Pre- and Post- Civil War United States History (HIS 2R03 and HIS 2RR3), Historical Inquiry: Slavery, Racism and the Writing of American History (HIS 2P03), Canadian and American Women's History (HIS 3W03 and HIS 3WW3), Women and Social Movements in the Twentieth Century United States (HIS 4I03), Introduction to Feminist Theory (WS 2AA3), Women Transforming the World (WS 1AA3).



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