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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 En 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.


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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 En 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.

30 review for The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    It is worth the price just to read He-Yin Zhen's (1884-1920) essay "On the Revenge of Women" where she traces women's historical oppression in China from marriage and funeral rites to the language and writing system all the while skewering traditional Confucian wisdom. She's a bit of an anarchist, which I dig, arguing the unequal distribution of property, religious institutions, legal system and even the state itself must all be remade for women to gain true social equality. Her central themes a It is worth the price just to read He-Yin Zhen's (1884-1920) essay "On the Revenge of Women" where she traces women's historical oppression in China from marriage and funeral rites to the language and writing system all the while skewering traditional Confucian wisdom. She's a bit of an anarchist, which I dig, arguing the unequal distribution of property, religious institutions, legal system and even the state itself must all be remade for women to gain true social equality. Her central themes are told through the exploration of the Chinese words Nannu (gender and class) and Shengji (livelihood). Another good section is "On the Liberation of Women." Strong, original and thought provoking.

  2. 5 out of 5

    cubierocks

    Essential reading for all global feminists! Learned so much from this book and the incredible essays of He-Yin Zhen!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Helga

    Das Buch bietet Einblick in chinesischen Feminismus um die Jahrhundertwende 1900. Es vereint frühe Texte zweier Feministen (Jin Tianhe und Liang Qichao) und spätere Texte von der Feministin und Anarchistin He-Yin Zhen mit Biografien der Schreiber_innen und einer historischen Einbettung. Während Jin und Liang sich eher als "Retter der Frauen" sehen, formulierte He-Yin Ideen, die der westliche Feminismus erst Jahrzehnte später aufnahm oder die selbst heute nicht selbstverständlich sind. Außerdem i Das Buch bietet Einblick in chinesischen Feminismus um die Jahrhundertwende 1900. Es vereint frühe Texte zweier Feministen (Jin Tianhe und Liang Qichao) und spätere Texte von der Feministin und Anarchistin He-Yin Zhen mit Biografien der Schreiber_innen und einer historischen Einbettung. Während Jin und Liang sich eher als "Retter der Frauen" sehen, formulierte He-Yin Ideen, die der westliche Feminismus erst Jahrzehnte später aufnahm oder die selbst heute nicht selbstverständlich sind. Außerdem ist sie radikaler als die beiden Männer. Diese argumentieren vor allem für Bildung und mehr (nicht unbedingt gleiche) politische Rechte für Frauen. Zu was Frauen nun genau fähig sind und was ihre Beteiligung in der Politik bedeutete, bleibt widersprüchlich. Dagegen belegt He-Yin erst ausführlich die mannigfaltigen sexistischen Traditionen des feudalen Chinas und sieht die Lösung im Kommunismus. Sie problematisiert die Spannung zwischen Erwerbs- und Reproduktionsarbeit von Frauen und korrigiert die Annahmen der Schreiber, die hoch-rangige Frauen im Blick hatten. Absolute Gleichberechtigung und Gemeinbesitz sind ihre Lösungsansätze, dann erübrige sich die Trennung von Mann und Frau (dabei erhält sie gleichwohl das heteronormative System). Mit der derzeitigen Entwicklung Chinas wäre sie vermutlich äußerst unzufrieden, wird es doch zunehmend wieder zum kapitalistischen Geldstreben auf dem Rücken junger Frauen. Insgesamt ein spannendes Buch, das Einblicke in die chinesische Geschichte und wichtige Impulse für Feminist_innen liefert.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Caruso

    This is an amazing book and I highly recommend it to anyone who studied Chinese history (Boxer Rebellion > May 4th Movement > Cultural Revolution, etc). I might be a little bias because Rebecca Karl was my favorite professor at NYU and I think the lady is brilliant.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Antje Schrupp

    Hab nur die Texte von He-Yin Zhen gelesen, nicht die der Männer... http://www.bzw-weiterdenken.de/2015/0... Hab nur die Texte von He-Yin Zhen gelesen, nicht die der Männer... http://www.bzw-weiterdenken.de/2015/0...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Asita

    I was amazed by He-Yin Zhen's words exposing the male-centeredness of the progressive Chinese men's feminist agenda. I'm pasting a section below: "Chinese men worship power and authority. They believe that Euro- peans, Americans, and the Japanese are civilized nations of the modern world who all grant their women some degree of freedom. By transplant- ing this system into the lives of their wives and daughters, by prohibiting the practice of footbinding, and by enrolling them in schools to receiv I was amazed by He-Yin Zhen's words exposing the male-centeredness of the progressive Chinese men's feminist agenda. I'm pasting a section below: "Chinese men worship power and authority. They believe that Euro- peans, Americans, and the Japanese are civilized nations of the modern world who all grant their women some degree of freedom. By transplant- ing this system into the lives of their wives and daughters, by prohibiting the practice of footbinding, and by enrolling them in schools to receive basic education, these men think they will be applauded by the whole world for having joined the ranks of civilized nations. Not only would the man enjoy such a reputation, his entire family would as well, and he himself would be credited as a pioneer. For instance, when a man brings his wife and daughters to a social gathering in a public square filled with crowds, he wants to draw people’s attention so they marvel at him with such com- ments as “Aren’t these So-and-So’s wife and daughters? They are certainly more enlightened than your ordinary Chinese women!”

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christina Mitchell

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eleonora Palli

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sheryl

  11. 5 out of 5

    Grace

  12. 5 out of 5

    Walai

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aelred

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eowyn Gordon

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jean Watkins

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tom Carter

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hugh MacNab

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elise

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zuzana Choteborska

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mauricio Santoro

  23. 5 out of 5

    Edna

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leta Fincher

  25. 4 out of 5

    John Tobin

  26. 5 out of 5

    James

  27. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Campbell

  28. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alice Lai

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kiersten

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