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.
About 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.
Rebecca Karl is Professor of History at New York University. She is the author of The Magic of Concepts: History and the Economic in Twentieth-Century China (Duke, 2017), Staging the World: Chinese Nationalism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Duke, 2002), and (with Dorothy Ko and Lydia Liu), The Birth of Chinese Feminism (Columbia, 2013).
Table of Contents
List of Chinese Dynasties and Note on Translation
Introduction: Toward a Transnational Feminist Theory
The Historical Context: Chinese Feminist Worlds at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
He-Yin Zhen Biography
He-Yin Zhen, "On the Question of Women's Liberation"
He-Yin Zhen, "On the Question of Women's Labor"
He-Yin Zhen, "Economic Revolution and Women's Revolution"
He-Yin Zhen, "On the Revenge of Women"
He-Yin Zhen, "On Feminist Antimilitarism"
He-Yin Zhen, "The Feminist Manifesto"
Liang Qichao Biography
Liang Qichao, "On Women's Education"
Jin Tianhe Biography
Jin Tianhe, "The Women's Bell"
What People are Saying About This
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.
He–Yin Zhen was one of the most originalyet today least well-knownfeminist 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.