Since around 2010, a new theoretical strand within Chinese feminism has been forming, which, for lack of a programmatic label, the author calls “socialist feminism.” Broadly speaking, Chinese socialist feminism shows an interest in political economy and attributes women’s status to their place in the economic structures of Chinese society. Productive and reproductive work (past and present) are therefore main fields of research. The distinctive terminological mark of socialist feminism, however, is its emphasis on China’s socialist past as a legacy and resource for today’s society. Differing from its Western counterpart, Chinese socialist feminism derives its profile not from theoretical debates on the relation between class and gender or capitalism and patriarchy and their empirical manifestations in Western industrialized societies, but from the very fact that socialism and a socialist approach to women’s problems have been a reality on Chinese soil that deserves recognition for feminist theory building. Socialism as a historical legacy and memory is indicative of China’s postsocialist situation, which, as the author argues, has a deep impact on the epistemological, theoretical, and political outlook as well as the identity of socialist feminists in today’s China.
Socialist Feminism in Postsocialist China
Nicola Spakowski is a professor of Sinology at the University of Freiburg, Germany. She is author and coeditor of several books, including “Mit Mut an die Front”: Die militärische Beteiligung von Frauen in der kommunistischen Revolution Chinas (1925 – 1949) (“Courageously to the Front”: Women’s Military Participation in the Chinese Communist Revolution, 1925 – 1949) (2009).
Nicola Spakowski; Socialist Feminism in Postsocialist China. positions 1 November 2018; 26 (4): 561–592. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-7050478
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