Hard To Place 

“The title, Hard to Place, references the difficulty of placing Joseph in adoption because of his mixed heritage, but also the title alludes to the physical ambiguity of the multiracial body. “What are you?” is a frequent question a mixed body hears because the ways our bodies present themselves make us hard to place as well.” 

- Dr. Alexandrina Agloro (Mixed Roots Stories)





About This Project


Hard To Place is a true story about race, family and the child welfare system in post-war Britain.

Combining confidential, UK government documentation with archival and (auto)biographical photography, this series traces the experience of Joseph, an orphan boy of Nigerian and Irish parentage growing up in 1960s/70s London. As a “half-cast(e)” child, in England, Joseph was considered “hard to place” amongst the mostly white, adoptive families.

Joseph is my husband. The little boy seen in Hard To Place is our son. The images in the book provide a visual alternative to the official, master narrative of child welfare that many mixed-race children are imprisoned by.

Self Published, 2016
Printed by Conveyor Arts
60 pages, 6 x 8.5"
Paperback (Perfect Bound)

The Hard to Place photobook is available for purchase online and also in the following bookstores/independent shops:



Additional Reading:


1. Essay by Paula Kupfer.

2. Personal essay and response by Dr. Alexandrina Agloro for the Mixed Roots Stories February 2016 Commons.

3. "Gaining Identity Through the Archive in Qiana Mestrich's Hard To Place" Afterimage essay by Amanda Chesnutt.
©Qiana Mestrich 2020-