Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes

Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes

Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes

Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes


The special focus of this book is the lives and experiences of women in China in the first half of the 20th century. Part One - Historical Interpretations - presents essays by Western-educated Chinese women and men, on the historical role of women in a time of great social and economic upheaval. Part Two - Self-Portraits of Women in Modern China - presents the views of women who experienced life in this period through essays and autobiographies that range from women as concubines to women as factory workers, from women suffering footbinding to women serving as nurses, from women in traditional role in a traditional family to women as scientists and teachers.


The study of Chinese women has made great progress in recent years, with the publication of a number of excellent articles, collections of articles, and monographs. The range of subjects has been wide, from palace women in the Sung dynasty to women in contemporary Chinese villages, but the principal focus has been on the post-1949 period, because of the availability of sources and because of widespread interest in the changes in status of Chinese women in the People's Republic of China. Earlier periods have not been neglected, and impressive studies are not lacking, but much remains to be done.

The need for a fuller, more sophisticated understanding of earlier periods has been recognized, both for the intrinsic value of understanding the past and because any evaluation of progress made in recent decades obviously depends on thorough and accurate knowledge of previous conditions. Although the tendency to contrast the present with a stereotyped image of a monolithic past seems happily to have diminished if not disappeared, the need for more detailed knowledge of earlier periods remains urgent. Fortunately, sources are not lacking, though they are more scattered than those for the contemporary period.

The purpose of this volume is to make a step in the direction of a better understanding of the past, especially of the halfcentury preceding the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949.

The first half of the twentieth century was a period of enormous change, as well as powerful resistance to change. As part of . . .

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