Sexuality in China

Histories of Power and Pleasure

Edited by Howard Chiang

  • Published: June 2018
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; History
  • Bibliographic information: 272 pp., 0 bandw illus, 1 table
    , 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

What was sex like in China, from imperial times through the post-Mao era? The answer depends, of course, on who was having sex, where they were located in time and place, and what kind of familial, social, and political structures they participated in. This collection offers a variety of perspectives by addressing diverse topics such as polygamy, pornography, free love, eugenics, sexology, crimes of passion, homosexuality, intersexuality, transsexuality, masculine anxiety, sex work, and HIV/AIDS. Following a loose chronological sequence, the chapters examine revealing historical moments in which human desire and power dynamics came into play. Collectively, the contributors undertake a necessary historiographic intervention by reconsidering Western categorizations and exploring Chinese understandings of sexuality and erotic orientation.
Howard Chiang is assistant professor of history at the University of California, Davis. He is the editor of Transgender China, Psychiatry and Chinese History, and Historical Epistemology and the Making of Modern Chinese Medicine. The contributors are Peter J. Carroll, Mirela David, Paul R. Goldin, Debby Chih-yen Huang, Keith McMahon, Elanah Uretsky, Ping Yao, Shana Ye, and Everett Yuehong Zhang.

"The most concise overview of the many variations of Chinese plural family arrangements I have ever read. A most intriguing investigation!"
-William Jankowiak, author of Sex, Death, and Hierarchy in a Chinese City

"This volume has the potential to serve as a field-shifter-it brings together important conceptual work, and it shows ways of thinking about sources that will be inspiring to other scholars. It is enormously exciting."
-Ann Waltner, author of Getting an Heir: Adoption and the Construction of Kinship in Late Imperial China

"In nine luminous essays, Sexuality in China gives us centuries of people thinking, worrying, writing, desiring, and acting. A powerful and pleasurable read."
-Gail Hershatter, University of California, Santa Cruz


"Sexuality in China: Histories of Power and Pleasure explores the history of sex in China from imperial times onwards. Loosely chronological, the collection presents varied viewpoints on themes including homosexuality, polygamy, sex work, pornography, and-even more juicily-crimes of passion."
-David Wilson, South China Morning Post