The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory

The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory

by Lydia H. Liu
     
 

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He-Yin Zhen (ca. 1884-1920?) was a theorist who figured centrally in the birth of Chinese feminism. Unlike her contemporaries, she was concerned less with China's fate as a nation and more with the relationship among patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism, and gender subjugation as global historical problems. This volume, the first translation and study of

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Overview

He-Yin Zhen (ca. 1884-1920?) was a theorist who figured centrally in the birth of Chinese feminism. Unlike her contemporaries, she was concerned less with China's fate as a nation and more with the relationship among patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism, and gender subjugation as global historical problems. This volume, the first translation and study of He-Yin's work in English, critically reconstructs early twentieth-century Chinese feminist thought in a transnational context by juxtaposing He-Yin Zhen's writing against works by two better-known male interlocutors of her time.

The editors begin with a detailed analysis of He-Yin Zhen's life and thought. They then present annotated translations of six of her major essays, as well as two foundational tracts by her male contemporaries, Jin Tianhe (1874-1947) and Liang Qichao (1873–1929), to which He-Yin's work responds and with which it engages. Jin, a poet and educator, and Liang, a philosopher and journalist, understood feminism as a paternalistic cause that liberals like themselves should defend. He-Yin presents an alternative conception that draws upon anarchism and other radical trends. Ahead of her time, He-Yin Zhen complicates conventional accounts of feminism and China's history, offering original perspectives on sex, gender, labor, and power that remain relevant today.

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Editorial Reviews

MCLC
The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory is less a broad collection of essays than it is a well-argued case for the transnational and radical origins of Chinese feminism.

Radical Philosophy
In resuscitating He-Yin Zhen's work, [the editors and translators] have produced a volume that challenges long-established views about the birth of Chinee feminism and repositions it as a pluralist and global event, the theoretical significance of which continues to resonate today.

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

A terrific book

Midwest Book Review
A powerful discussion highly recommended for college-level Chinese culture and women's studies collections alike.

Books & Culture
An invaluable contribution to anyone interested in Chinese intellectual history or the history of feminism across nations and across time periods.

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture - Tani Barlow
A terrific book.

Modern Chinese Literature & Culture - Shaoling Ma
A well-argued case for the transnational and radical origins of Chinese feminism.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231162906
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
03/26/2013
Series:
Weatherhead Books on Asia Series
Pages:
328
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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What People are saying about this

Gail Hershatter
This magnificent volume opens up a past and conjures a future. Anarcho-feminist He-Yin Zhen published her passionate and closely reasoned essays more than a century ago, yet the issues she raises have yet to be addressed adequately in China or anywhere else. The Birth of Chinese Feminism offers us the best of her writing and that of her feminist male contemporaries, with whom she did not always agree. The editors and translators have restored to visibility a world crackling with debate about equality, hierarchy, property, and justice. They challenge us to keep one appreciative eye on history and another on the conundrum of our own moment.

Amy Dooling
He–Yin Zhen was one of the most original—yet today least well-known—feminist theorists of the late Qing era. Her intellectual/political project, which she approached via a wide-ranging (and uncompromising) critique of patriarchy, capitalism, liberalism, and imperialism, was to link gendered forms of subjugation to global systems of power. The Birth of Chinese Feminism not only sheds light on the unique vision of a remarkable turn-of-the century radical thinker but also provides a fresh lens through which we can examine one of the most fascinating and complex junctures in modern Chinese history.

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Meet the Author

Lydia H. Liu is Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and codirector of the Center for Translingual and Transcultural Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing. She is the author of The Clash of Empires: The Invention of China in Modern World Making and, more recently, The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious.

Rebecca E. Karl is associate professor of history at New York University. She is the author of Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History and Staging the World: Chinese Nationalism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.

Dorothy Ko, a native of Hong Kong, is professor of history at Barnard College. She is a coeditor of Women and Confucian Cultures in Pre-modern China, Korea, and Japan and the author of Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China and Cinderella's Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding.

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