UBC Lectures, Seminars, and Symposia

The Legacy of the Maoist Gender Project in Contemporary China: A Feminist Research on Women's Oral Life… Huang, Xin 2010-09-22

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The Legacy of the Maoist Gender Project in Contemporary China A feminist research on women's oral life narratives Xin Huang University of Bri3sh Columbia September 22, 2010  Painting by Shitou, “A Photo with Mother”, 1997  The Mao Era (1949‐1978) Funü 妇女(women)  The Post‐Mao Era (1978‐‐Present) Nüxing 女性(female sex/gender)  Research ques3ons The Maoist gender legacy in China today • Relevance • Individual experience • Political significance  Painting by Shitou, “A Photo with Mother”, 1997  Theore3cal Framework • “Chinese” conceptualizations of gender • A hybrid product of Chinese-Western interaction  • Judith Butler: gender performativity • Gender as constituted in and through discourse • Zone of uninhabitability • Discursive formulation and subversion of gender  Painting by Shitou, “A Photo with Mother”, 1997  Theore3cal Framework • Gender as “project” • Gender as a consciously designed and performed “project” • Emphasizing women’s active role as agent  • Feminist Narrative Studies • Gender and self-narration • Feminist criticism of traditional narrative forms • “Women-centred and women-defined discourse” Painting by Shitou, “A Photo with Mother”, 1997  Research Methodology • “Women-centred and women-defined discourse” and alternative narrative strategies • Dialect and hybrid language • “Telling and retelling” interview method • Visual records  Painting by Shitou, “A Photo with Mother”, 1997  Research Data • Snowballing recruitment • Two to three hour interview • Fifteen women’s life stories • In-depth analysis of four women’s life stories  *Photo release was obtained Painting by Shitou, “A Photo with Mother”, 1997  Linyi: The Gender Project  奶奶  • Growing up between jia7ngfunü (housewife) grandmother and Maoist funü mother • Rejec3on of the “proletarian” femininity • From funü to nüxing: nego3a3on and revision – Taming the Maoist funü – Incorpora3ng the funü  妈妈  Linyi: The Narra3ve  奶奶  • First telling: Chinese master‐script of “speaking biXerness” – Priori3zing class over gender – De‐gendered representa3on  • Retelling and “go beyond the ending” – A more complex and conflic3ng self – Narra3ve agency  妈妈  Dongqun: The Gender Project • PLA (People’s Libera3on Army) Sneakers: a story of shame • Clothes: a story of the desire to become a nüxing • Hair: a story of resistance against exclusion • Daughter: a story of redemp3on  Dongqun: The Narra3ve • Dialect and narra3ve agency – Dialect and symbolic sanctuary – The ar3cula3on of “private”, “deviant” or “trivial” desires – The fusion of different language resources – A self constructed beyond a single linguis3c prescrip3on  Dongqun: The Narra3ve – “Aimei” (loving beauty) • The publicly sanctioned pursuit of beauty and personal liberation in the post-Mao era • Signifying a post-Mao nüxing identity  – “Laogong”(husband) • Situates her marriage in a modern urban nuclear family context  A self constructed beyond a single linguis3c prescrip3on  Shitou (石头) The Gender Project  Interpre3ng Between the Sayable and the Seeable  Weapon Series, 1997  Re-imagining the Female Body  Together Series, 2001  Female Bonding and Self-discovery Girlfriend Series, 1997  Old Photo Series, 1997  Recovering “Her-story”  Calendar Series, 2000  Signifying “Chinese” Lesbian  Shitou (石头): The Narrative  • Resis3ng the hegemony of heterosexual language – – – –  Silences, hesita3ons, and narra3ve nego3a3on Self‐conscious linguis3c exercises Mul3‐lingual and mul3‐cultural resources The appropria3on of tongzhi (comrade)  The Politics of “Women” “Women” as a state category in the Mao era • Funü 妇女 , a politicized revolutionary subject “Women” within a heterosexist female/male binary in pre- andpost- Mao eras • Nüxing 女性, a sexualized modernist subject “Women” as a vernacular social category • Nü de 女的, female  Shitou (石头): The Narrative • The transcultural construction of post-Mao Chinese lesbian subjectivities – Gay and lesbian (in English) – Tongzhi 同志(people who share a common will or goal , comrade) • Nütongzhi 女同志(female comrade) • Nantongzhi 男同志(male comrade)  – Lala 拉拉(lesbian)  The appropria3on of tongzhi (comrade)  Amy: The Gender Project • Maoist funü mother and her foil character, the Jia7ngfunü grandmother • Resis3ng masculinist Maoist authoritarianism: the father • Rite of passage: study in the UK • The construc3on of a cosmopolitan nüxing • Searching for and finding limits of the promise of the nüxing subject Painting by Shitou, “A Photo with Mother”, 1997  Amy: The Narrative • Yuppie Mandarin: a cosmopolitan Mandarin language style with Mao and post‐Mao eras poli3cal vocabulary • English terms: performing, inven3ng and (re)fashioning a hybrid cosmopolitan gender iden3ty • “Hybrid Chinese”: alterna3ve “language of gender” Painting by Shitou, “A Photo with Mother”, 1997  Conclusion • The Maoist gender project and its legacy • Gender as project, situated subversion, and diverse strategies • Feminist research and alternative story-telling  Painting by Shitou, “A Photo with Mother”, 1997  


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