Women and Gender in Contemporary Chinese Societies: Beyond Han Patriarchy

Women and Gender in Contemporary Chinese Societies: Beyond Han Patriarchy

by Shanshan Du
     
 

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Recent attention to historical, geographic, and class differences in the studies of women and gender in China has expanded our understanding of the diversity and complexity of gendered China. Nevertheless, the ethnic dimension of this subject matter remains largely overlooked, particularly concerning women’s conditions and gender status. Consequently, the

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Overview

Recent attention to historical, geographic, and class differences in the studies of women and gender in China has expanded our understanding of the diversity and complexity of gendered China. Nevertheless, the ethnic dimension of this subject matter remains largely overlooked, particularly concerning women’s conditions and gender status. Consequently, the patriarchy and its oppression of women among the Han, the ethnic majority in China, are often inaccurately or erroneously associated with the whole gendered heritage of China, epitomized by the infamous traditions of footbinding and female-infanticide. Such academic and popular predisposition belies the fact that gender systems in China span a wide spectrum, ranging from extreme Han patriarchy to Lahu gender-egalitarianism.
The authors contributing to this book have collectively initiated a systematic effort to bridge the gap between understanding the majority Han and ethnic minorities in regard to women and gender in contemporary Chinese societies. By achieving a quantitative balance between articles on the Han majority and those on ethnic minorities, this book transcends the ghettoization of ethnic minorities in the studies of Chinese women and gender. The eleven chapters of this volume are divided into three sections which jointly challenge the traditions and norms of Han patriarchy from various perspectives. The first section focuses on gender traditions among ethnic minorities which compete with the norms of Han patriarchy. The second section emphasizes the impact of radical social transformation on gender systems and practices among both Han and ethnic minorities. The third section underscores socio-cultural diversity and complexity in resistance to Han patriarchal norms from a broad perspective. This book complements previous scholarship on Chinese women and gender by expanding our investigative lens beyond Han patriarchy and providing images of the multiethnic landscape of China. By identifying the Han as an ethnically marked category and by bringing to the forefront the diverse gender systems of ethnic minorities, this book encourages an increasing awareness of, and sensitivity to the cross-cultural diversity of gendered China both in academia and beyond.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
This book covers a wide array of topics concerning developments of gender relations, ethnicity, and religious and family life in the reform era (post 1979). With 5 of 11 chapters devoted to national minorities living in southwestern China, this book underscores the recent orientation among anthropologists and historians to 'ethnicize' the concepts of 'Chinese' and 'Chinese women.' Case studies and interviews provide insights into the complex mechanics of the ongoing negotiation and reinvention of gender-related beliefs, practices, and expressions of national minorities and the Han majority. Summing Up: Recommended.
CHOICE
This book covers a wide array of topics concerning developments of gender relations, ethnicity, and religious and family life in the reform era (post 1979). With 5 of 11 chapters devoted to national minorities living in southwestern China, this book underscores the recent orientation among anthropologists and historians to 'ethnicize' the concepts of 'Chinese' and 'Chinese women.' Case studies and interviews provide insights into the complex mechanics of the ongoing negotiation and reinvention of gender-related beliefs, practices, and expressions of national minorities and the Han majority. Summing Up: Recommended.
Vanessa L. Fong
This coherent and well-organized collection of essays makes important contributions to the study of gender in contemporary Chinese societies. Rich in ethnographic details as well as new theoretical insights, these essays highlight the ethnic and cultural diversity that exists within China. This book will be very valuable for everyone interested in gender studies, China studies, or studies of ethnicity.
Louisa Schein
A fresh collection spanning nearly a century and bringing the field of Chinese gender studies firmly into the diverse, marketized world of the post-socialist epoch, this multidisciplinary set of case studies is richly ethnographic, analytically imaginative and scrupulously mindful of the many traditions that still inflect gender ideology and practice among ethnic minorities and Han alike.
Stevan Harrell
Women and Gender in Contemporary Chinese Societies is an important book, because it will help us give up our stereotypes about Chinese family and gender. Local case-study chapters remind us forcefully that there has never been a monolithic 'Chinese family,' but rather great diversity both among the minorities and among the majority Han Chinese. Even more importantly, reports based on recent ethnographic fieldwork show us that there is a family and gender revolution going on— power relations between men and women, between seniors and juniors are changing rapidly, fertility has declined sharply, families are focused on the young. And case studies from recent history and literature demonstrate how these changes are reflected in cultural expressions. Reading the studies in this book both broadens our understanding and brings our ideas of gender and family in China up to date.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739182970
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
03/16/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
252
Product dimensions:
6.01(w) x 8.91(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Stevan Harrell
Women and Gender in Contemporary Chinese Societies is an important book, because it will help us give up our stereotypes about Chinese family and gender. Local case-study chapters remind us forcefully that there has never been a monolithic 'Chinese family,' but rather great diversity both among the minorities and among the majority Han Chinese. Even more importantly, reports based on recent ethnographic fieldwork show us that there is a family and gender revolution going on— power relations between men and women, between seniors and juniors are changing rapidly, fertility has declined sharply, families are focused on the young. And case studies from recent history and literature demonstrate how these changes are reflected in cultural expressions. Reading the studies in this book both broadens our understanding and brings our ideas of gender and family in China up to date.
Vanessa L. Fong
This coherent and well-organized collection of essays makes important contributions to the study of gender in contemporary Chinese societies. Rich in ethnographic details as well as new theoretical insights, these essays highlight the ethnic and cultural diversity that exists within China. This book will be very valuable for everyone interested in gender studies, China studies, or studies of ethnicity.
Louisa Schein
A fresh collection spanning nearly a century and bringing the field of Chinese gender studies firmly into the diverse, marketized world of the post-socialist epoch, this multidisciplinary set of case studies is richly ethnographic, analytically imaginative and scrupulously mindful of the many traditions that still inflect gender ideology and practice among ethnic minorities and Han alike.

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Meet the Author

Shanshan Du is associate professor of anthropology at Tulane University. She authored Chopsticks Only Work in Pairs: Gender Unity and Gender Equality among the Lahu of Southwest China (Columbia University Press) and co-edited “Negotiating Women's Roles and Power: The Practice of World Religions in Contemporary Asia” (a special issue of Religion). She is a recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the Mellon Foundation/ACLS.

Ya-chen Chen is assistant professor of foreign literature and Director of Chinese Language Program at Clark University, and formerly affiliated with the City University of New York (with the same titles and Asian Studies Director), in both of which this book was prepared. Her academic books include Farewell My Concubine: Same-Sex Readings and Cross-Cultural Dialogues (2004); Women in Taiwan: Sociocultural Perspectives (2009); Higher Education in East Asia: Neoliberalism and the Professoriate (2009); and The Many Dimensions of Chinese Feminism (2011).

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