Women and the Family in Chinese History (Asia's Transformations/Critical Asian Scholarship)
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This is a collection of essays by one of the leading scholars of Chinese history, Patricia Buckley. In the essays she has selected for this fascinating volume, Professor Ebrey explores features of the Chinese family, gender and kinship systems as practices and ideas intimately connected to history and therefore subject to change over time. The essays cover topics ranging from dowries and the sale of women into forced concubinary, to the excesses of the imperial harem, excruciating pain of footbinding, and Confucian ideas of womanly virtue.
Patricia Ebrey places these sociological analyses of women within the family in an historical context, analysing the development of the wider kinship system. Her work provides an overview of the early modern period, with a specific focus on the Song period (920-1276), a time of marked social and cultural change, and considered to be the beginning of the modern period in Chinese history.
With its wide-ranging examination of issues relating to women and the family, this book will be essential reading to scholars of Chinese history and gender studies.
character for yellow, huang) had more afﬁnity to northerners whose families pronounced their name the same way than to northerners who used the same character to write their name. The remarkable powers of the written language inﬂuenced Chinese conceptions of kinship just as they did other spheres of Chinese culture. It is worth noticing that kin-based metaphors of ethnic solidarity like China’s do not lend themselves easily to racial categorizing. Patrilineal descent may be biological, but it
men of the generation senior to Sima Guang. In his epitaph for Du Yan, Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072) stressed the family’s illustrious history back to eminent ofﬁcials of the Tang dynasty. He reported that the Du family had been very rich, but when the property was divided, Du Yan had let his brothers take all of his share as they were poor.17 Zhang Fangping, in his epitaph for Du Yan’s wife, mentioned that Du Yan’s father died when he was a small child and that his mother returned home, leaving him
impermanence of connections based on concubinage Scholars may have clamored to condemn Li Ding’s neglect of his concubine/ mother, but they recognized that he faced a real problem. Men, perhaps especially ofﬁcials and merchants, might take a concubine to keep them company while they resided away from home, then abandon her when they left. The children of such concubines might loose all contact with their biological mothers. In the late 1060s, condemnation of Li Ding’s solution – ignoring his
of money, migration to the south, the expansion of the examination system, changes in state activism, the Neo-Confucian movement, or the like, we would see similar variability in how these more general historical changes were connected to changes in the family, gender, and kinship systems. There are processes we discern only when we look at these domains together; but there are others we see only when we take each case separately. 10 Women and the family in Chinese history 1 Women, money, and
explicitly non-Han, population.6 But if genealogies are to be believed, none of these converts ever left much progeny or at least progeny who prospered. Surely some of those who did well enough in Song, Ming, and Qing times to commission genealogies must have had patrilineal ancestors of non-Han origin. But overwhelmingly residents of the area wanted to tell a story of Han Chinese migration, sometimes in the Han but most often in the Tang, Song, or Yuan.7 Rather than say they became Chinese the