|dc.description.abstract||This thesis’ subtitle, “a history of the present,” has been chosen to highlight the purposes of my research on Chinese feminism. First, I aim to give a close account of the development of contemporary Chinese feminism in media and popular culture, in academia, in student societies, and in social organizations. Second, by exploring the history and historiography of pre-2000 Chinese feminism, I aim to unravel how politics has impinged upon the writing of this history and how feminist history in China might practically engage with the past to articulate politics in the present.
The first part of this thesis traces the emergence of Chinese feminism in various ways, considering the impact of publications like Women’s Bell in the early twentieth century, and discussing how different voices, such as anarcho-feminism and “traditional” feminism, were marginalized by late Qing and May Fourth “liberal” feminisms bound up with a male-centered nationalism. From the 1920s on, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) inherited some of these ideas about “women’s rights,” while denouncing others, and later put a different vision of women’s liberation into practice, especially in the period from 1949 to the late 1970s in the People’s Republic of China. My thesis argues for conceptualizing this past as a history of socialist feminism and for locating socialist feminists among women cadres, cultural workers and labor models of this period. While various gains or losses of Chinese socialist feminism remain to be debated today, my thesis will also consider how, in the 1980s and 1990s, a post-Mao generation of feminists identified what they perceived as socialist feminism’s obvious shortcomings and spearheaded new forms of feminist discourse and practice in women’s literature, women’s studies and women’s activism.
The second part of this thesis, while also referencing Chinese feminism’s connections to its immediate past, focuses more explicitly on the present landscape, drawing primarily on fieldwork conducted with Chinese feminist academics and students and with urban feminist activist groups operating outside the university context. By first examining the current state of Chinese youth and their relations to feminism, these chapters discuss possible reasons why young Chinese people do not often identify with feminism. Here I want to make a case for broadening the category of feminism by discussing its two likely popular forms, imbricated respectively with consumer and celebrity culture. However, this part of the thesis focuses more centrally on feminist academics, students, and activists, who are collectively the most active force in contemporary Chinese feminism. After the post-Mao generation, an intermediate generation became feminists largely through educational institutions, and after finishing graduate school many have found ways to expand academic feminism in Chinese universities. Academic feminists, however, take varied positions themselves with respect to the relation between research and activism, some offering help to student feminists organizing vigorous student societies on campus. Outside university campuses, some young graduates have grown up to be China’s most devoted feminist activists, working in crucial feminist organizations, whose core practices, including their use of social media, their activist strategies, and their relations to LGBT groups, will be elaborated.
This is an interdisciplinary project centered on Chinese feminism and inspired by scholarship in Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Women’s and Gender History, and Historical Theory. It does not aim to construct an overarching theoretical framework that might explain the present forms of Chinese feminism. Instead, I draw on a range of theoretical frameworks, including scholarship focused on the relations between history and history-writing, on intellectual work in popular culture, on relations between feminist theory and practice, and on the conceptualization of tradition and modernity. I am thus also engaging, implicitly and explicitly, with the cultural politics of relations between leftists and liberals, and between such critical axes as modernism and postmodernism. Overall, I aim to demonstrate how, for Chinese feminism, different meanings of “history of the present” ultimately converge in the ongoing relevance of historical ideas and practices, and in the ways Chinese feminists who write about history, or engage in other kinds of research or activism, continue to engender the present and the future.||en_AU|
|dc.publisher||University of Sydney||en_AU|
|dc.publisher||Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences||en_AU|
|dc.publisher||School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry||en_AU|
|dc.publisher||Department of Gender and Cultural Studies||en_AU|
|dc.rights||The author retains copyright of this thesis. It may only be used for the purposes of research and study. It must not be used for any other purposes and may not be transmitted or shared with others without prior permission.||en_AU|
|dc.subject||young Chinese women||en_AU|
|dc.title||Chinese Feminism: A History of the Present||en_AU|
|dc.type.pubtype||Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D.||en_AU|
|dc.description.disclaimer||Access is restricted to staff and students of the University of Sydney . UniKey credentials are required. Non university access may be obtained by visiting the University of Sydney Library.||en_AU|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (University of Sydney Access only)|