The Gender Legacy of the Mao Era

Women's Life Stories in Contemporary China

By Xin Huang

Subjects: Asian Studies, Chinese Studies, Feminist, Women's Studies, Gender Studies
Hardcover : 9781438470610, 304 pages, August 2018
Paperback : 9781438470603, 304 pages, July 2019

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Abbreviations and Selected Glossary of Chinese Names and Terms

1. Born into the Mao Era: Lin’s Life Story

2. The Shaming of Funü: Dong’s Life Story

3. I Am a Rock: Shitou’s Life Story

4. The Cosmopolitan Daughter of Funü: Anne’s Life Story

Conclusion The Gender Legacy of the Mao Era and Contemporary Feminist Struggles

Appendix List of Participants


Shows that the feminist interventions of the Mao era (1949–1976) continue to influence contemporary Chinese women.


This book traces how the legacy of the Maoist gender project is experienced or contested by particular Chinese women, remembered or forgotten in their lives, and highlighted or buried in their narratives. Xin Huang examines four women's life stories: an urban woman who lived through the Mao era (1949–1976), a rural migrant worker, a lesbian artist who has close connections with transnational queer networks, and an urban woman who has lived abroad. The individual narratives are paired with analysis of the historical and social contexts in which each woman lives. Huang focuses on the shifting relationship between gender and class, fashion and shame in the Mao and post-Mao eras, queer desire and artwork, and contemporary transnational encounters. By rethinking the historical significance and contemporary relevance of one of the twentieth century's major feminist interventions—socialist and Marxist women's liberation during the Mao years—The Gender Legacy of the Mao Era provides insight into current struggles over gender equality in China and around the world.

Xin Huang is Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.


"This empirically rich work sheds light on multiple gender discourses that shape the individual gender projects of Chinese women today." — Pacific Affairs

"…engrossing … The book's supplemental materials include … a rich glossary of terms, endnotes, and a bibliography that will guide newer readers of women's and gender studies through the nuances of this work. This is an important volume for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty." — CHOICE