Subject Of Gender

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Overview

Women in urban China have lived through decades of political turbulence, extensive socio-economic change, and the transformation of gender practices, expectations, and relationships. Among these is the mother-daughter relationship, one that has profound influence on women's gendered subjectivity but one that has been overlooked in research on gender and family in China. In The Subject of Gender, Harriet Evans reflects on how women in urban China make sense of the shifts in practices and representations of gender that frame their lives and how their self-identification as mothers and daughters contributes to the redefinition of those practices. Based on the memories and experiences of educated and professional women of different ages, this book discusses the mother-daughter relationship through various themes: separation, communication, domestic/public boundaries, male privilege, the sexed body, reproduction, and filial responsibilities. This fascinating work draws on feminist and critical theory and on anthropological and historical research to analyze the changing articulations of gender subjectivity that emerge from the links between discursive shifts, generational difference, and individual experiences of the mother-daughter relationship.

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Editorial Reviews

Gail Hershatter
Personal life in reform-era China attracts its share of scholarly attention, but no one has investigated mother-daughter relations—their inflection by Big History and generational change, their connection to the changing shape of gender. Harriet Evans is a scholar fully equal to this task. A discerning and original thinker, she is attuned to gender theory and attentive to the historical specificities of China. The Subject of Gender suggests new ways of thinking about women, emotional life, and historical transformation.
CHOICE
[Evans'] multigenerational approach historicizes motherhood and illustrates shifts in female subjectivity from the 1950s through the present. . . . Highly recommended.
China Quarterly
Harriet Evans interviewed educated professional women about their childhoods and the way they were bringing up their own daughters. This methodology made it possible to highlight the way intimate family life, gendered expectations, and the reproduction of the evolving gender order were affected over time by changes in the political climate and in social and cultural expectations. This fine study is all the more welcome because the patriarchal and patrilineal characteristics of the Chinese family have tended to dominate studies of Chinese kinship while mother-daughter relationships have been comparatively neglected.
Journal of Asian Studies
This is an incisive and highly articulate study of mother-daughter relations in contemporary China. . . . The Subject of Gender will be required reading for those with an interest in social change in contemporary China, comparative family systems, and mother-daughter relations. It offers vivid and innovative material to China-focused courses in anthropology, sociology, gender studies, and contemporary history.
Southeast Review of Asian Studies
The Subject of Gender tackles important issues in gender studies and demonstrates superb analytical skills.
Charles Stafford
Through a nuanced analysis of the relationship between mothers and daughters, this book addresses profound questions about the nature of gender, kinship, family life, and personal development in modern China. Harriet Evans's highly accessible text, framed around a series of fascinating interviews, will be much appreciated by students of China as well as by general readers.
September 2008 CHOICE
[Evans'] multigenerational approach historicizes motherhood and illustrates shifts in female subjectivity from the 1950s through the present. . . . Highly recommended.
June 2009 China Quarterly
Harriet Evans interviewed educated professional women about their childhoods, and the way they were bringing up their own daughters. This methodology made it possible to highlight the way intimate family life, gendered expectations and the reproduction of the evolving gender order were affected over time by changes in the political climate and in social and cultural expectations. This fine study is all the more welcome because the patriarchal and patrilineal characteristics of the Chinese family have tended to dominate studies of Chinese kinship while mother-daughter relationships have been comparatively neglected.
May 2010 Journal Of Asian Studies
This is an incisive and highly articulate study of mother-daughter relations in contemporary China…. The Subject of Gender will be required reading for those with an interest in social change in contemporary China, comparative family systems, and mother-daughter relations. It offers vivid and innovative material to China-focused courses in anthropology, sociology, gender studies, and contemporary history.
May 2010 Journal of Asian Studies
This is an incisive and highly articulate study of mother-daughter relations in contemporary China…. The Subject of Gender will be required reading for those with an interest in social change in contemporary China, comparative family systems, and mother-daughter relations. It offers vivid and innovative material to China-focused courses in anthropology, sociology, gender studies, and contemporary history.
Southeast Review Of Asian Studies
The Subject of Gender tackles important issues in gender studies and demonstrates superb analytical skills.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742554788
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2007
  • Series: Asian Voices Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 0.56 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Harriet Evans is professor of Chinese cultural studies at the University of Westminster.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Encounters with Mothers and Daughters
Chapter 2: Lives Apart
Chapter 3: Communicative Bonds
Chapter 4: Negotiating Gender Boundaries between "Inner" and "Outer"
Chapter 5: Difference and Discrimination
Chapter 6: The Gender of the Sexed Body
Chapter 7: Reproducing Filiality
Chapter 8: The Changing Subject of Gender

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