Translating “Domesticity” in 20th-Century China
This paper considers both the history and the historiography of translating domesticity in modern China. Looking at women’s periodical literature and textbooks from the first half of the twentieth-century, I argue that Chinese people engaged with global ideas of domesticity and made them relevant to their local contexts. Second, I consider this history of the Chinese family, house and home within the historiography of domesticities in the United States and Europe that have naturalized a history of capitalist modernity in which domesticity and separate spheres is linked to the industrial revolution. The Chinese modern house and home, by contrast, was invented under colonial capitalism in China’s multiply colonized treaty-port cities. Thus, this paper considers the structures of global power that shaped the translation of knowledge in China in the early 20th century and continue to shape historical paradigms today.
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