Essential Texts in Transnational Theory
He-Yin Zhen (ca. 1884-1920?) was a theorist who figured centrally in the birth of Chinese feminism. Unlike her contemporaries, she was concerned less with China's fate as a nation and more with the relationship among patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism, and gender subjugation as global historical problems. This volume, the first translation and study of He-Yin's work in English, critically reconstructs early twentieth-century Chinese feminist thought in a transnational context by juxtaposing He-Yin Zhen's writing against works by two better-known male interlocutors of her time.
The editors begin with a detailed analysis of He-Yin Zhen's life and thought. They then present annotated translations of six of her major essays, as well as two foundational tracts by her male contemporaries, Jin Tianhe (1874-1947) and Liang Qichao (1873–1929), to which He-Yin's work responds and with which it engages. Jin, a poet and educator, and Liang, a philosopher and journalist, understood feminism as a paternalistic cause that liberals like themselves should defend. He-Yin presents an alternative conception that draws upon anarchism and other radical trends. Ahead of her time, He-Yin Zhen complicates conventional accounts of feminism and China's history, offering original perspectives on sex, gender, labor, and power that remain relevant today.
"The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory is less a broad collection of essays than it is a well-argued case for the transnational and radical origins of Chinese feminism." — MCLC
"In resuscitating He-Yin Zhen's work, [the editors and translators] have produced a volume that challenges long-established views about the birth of Chinee feminism and repositions it as a pluralist and global event, the theoretical significance of which continues to resonate today." — Radical Philosophy
"A terrific book." — Tani Barlow, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture
"A powerful discussion highly recommended for college-level Chinese culture and women's studies collections alike." — Midwest Book Review
"An invaluable contribution to anyone interested in Chinese intellectual history or the history of feminism across nations and across time periods." — Books & Culture
"A well-argued case for the transnational and radical origins of Chinese feminism." — Shaoling Ma, Modern Chinese Literature & Culture
"He–Yin Zhen was one of the most original—yet today least well-known—feminist theorists of the late Qing era. Her intellectual/political project, which she approached via a wide-ranging (and uncompromising) critique of patriarchy, capitalism, liberalism, and imperialism, was to link gendered forms of subjugation to global systems of power. The Birth of Chinese Feminism not only sheds light on the unique vision of a remarkable turn-of-the century radical thinker but also provides a fresh lens through which we can examine one of the most fascinating and complex junctures in modern Chinese history." — Amy Dooling, author of Women?s Literary Feminism in Twentieth-Century China
"This magnificent volume opens up a past and conjures a future. Anarcho-feminist He-Yin Zhen published her passionate and closely reasoned essays more than a century ago, yet the issues she raises have yet to be addressed adequately in China or anywhere else. The Birth of Chinese Feminism offers us the best of her writing and that of her feminist male contemporaries, with whom she did not always agree. The editors and translators have restored to visibility a world crackling with debate about equality, hierarchy, property, and justice. They challenge us to keep one appreciative eye on history and another on the conundrum of our own moment." — Gail Hershatter, author of The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China?s Collective Past
List of Chinese Dynasties and Note on Translation
Introduction: Toward a Transnational Feminist Theory
The Historical Context: Chinese Feminist Worlds at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
He-Yin Zhen Biography
He-Yin Zhen, "On the Question of Women's Liberation"
He-Yin Zhen, "On the Question of Women's Labor"
He-Yin Zhen, "Economic Revolution and Women's Revolution"
He-Yin Zhen, "On the Revenge of Women"
He-Yin Zhen, "On Feminist Antimilitarism"
He-Yin Zhen, "The Feminist Manifesto"
Liang Qichao Biography
Liang Qichao, "On Women's Education"
Jin Tianhe Biography
Jin Tianhe, "The Women's Bell"
Read the chapter "The Historical Context: Chinese Feminist Worlds at teh Turn of the Twentieth Century" from The Birth of Chinese Feminism (to view in full screen, click on icon in bottom right-hand corner)