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New Women, Feminist Activists, Concubines, and Prostitutes: Divisions and Dialogue in the Afterlives of Chinese Polygamous Practices

Sun, June 26, 1:00 to 2:50pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: BF, 012

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel Proposal Application


What are the ongoing effects of polygynous desires, traditions, and sexual arrangements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, in the modern wake of Chinese polygamous traditions? This panel delineates some of the reconfigured hierarchies of female identities, sexualities, and domestic arrangements in twentieth century China and contemporary Taiwan that have arisen in the context of the adoption of the modern and ostensibly egalitarian ideal of monogamy and the legal embrace of monogamous marriage by successive governments. The panel is particularly concerned with political flashpoints, communicative obstacles, and new imaginative possibilities that have emerged in conjunction with changes in the legal definition of the family, in concert with the development of urban feminism, activist women’s movements, and new articulations of egalitarianism and rights. Collectively, the papers highlight the emergence of new-styled female identities and strategies of public activism, the persistence or refashioning of sexual moral hierarchies, and the blurring and policing of categorical divisions among women. The panel is interdisciplinary in orientation, encompassing both historical and literary approaches and source materials.

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