Transforming Patriarchy

Chinese Families in the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Goncalo Santos and Stevan Harrell

  • Published: November 2016
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Anthropology; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 312 pp., 2 tables, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Each successive wave of revolution to hit modern China-political, cultural, and economic-has radically reshaped Chinese society. Whereas patriarchy defined the familial social structure for thousands of years, changing realities in the last hundred years have altered and even reversed long-held expectations. Transforming Patriarchy explores the private and public dimensions of these changes in present-day China. Patriarchy is not dead, but it is no longer the default arrangement for Chinese families: Daughters-in-law openly berate their fathers-in-law. Companies sell filial-piety insurance. Many couples live together before marriage, and in some parts of rural China, almost all brides are pregnant.

Drawing on a multitude of sources and perspectives, this volume turns to the intimate territory of the family to challenge prevailing scholarly assumptions about gender and generational hierarchies in Chinese society. Case studies examine factors such as social class, geography, and globalization as they relate to patriarchal practice and resistance to it. The contributors bring the concept of patriarchy back to the heart of China studies while rethinking its significance in dominant Western-centric theories of modernity.
Goncalo Santos is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Hong Kong. Stevan Harrell is professor of anthropology and environmental and forest sciences at the University of Washington. The contributors are Melissa J. Brown, Elisabeth L. Engebretsen, Harriet Evans, Suzanne Gottschang, William Jankowiak, Andrew B. Kipnis, Kerstin Klein, Xuan Li, Helena Obendiek, Lihong Shi, Roberta Zavoretti, and Hong Zhang.

"Will make an enormous contribution to our understanding of patriarchy in general and the rapid transformation of '[Han] Chinese patriarchy' in particular."
-Shanshan Du, author of Chopsticks Only Work in Pairs: Gender Unity and Gender Equality among the Lahu of Southwest China

"This is a timely volume that offers current research on the changing configuration of patriarchal relationships, practices, and ideologies in contemporary China. The scope is broad, covering both rural and urban China, but not at the expense of depth, which the individual case studies provide in spades."
-Sara Friedman, author of Exceptional States: Chinese Immigrants and Taiwanese Sovereignty