East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

May 17 Workshop (Paper will be sent out via email or upon request)


Workshop on East Asia: Politics, Economy and Society and the Confucius Institute Present

Recasting the State: Feminist Trajectories in India and China

Professor Dongxiao Liu
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University

Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 4:30 – 5:50pm
Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/
Student coordinator: Jean Lin (jeanlin@uchicago.edu)
Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao

The workshop is sponsored by the Confucius Institute, Center for East Asian Studies and the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

War, taxation, trade, and domination over powerful male groups in society are considered intrinsic interests of the state. Feminism has to be superimposed on the state through piecemeal add-ons, specific policies, and partial modification of political procedures. The state is the “coral reef” for feminist mobilization at both domestic and international levels. This is one path toward a gender-equitable state, which has animated scholarly debates on the relationship between state and feminisms.
The Indian and Chinese cases suggest an alternative path, the unfolding of which is shaped by a different sequence of state making and feminist mobilization. Gender equality is a founding principle of the states, established as a result of decades-long cultural debates and political competition that preceded the founding of the states. The commitment has subsequently been reinforced by international competition and cooperation. If the states on the aforementioned path have taken shape through war and other conventional state-making processes before facing feminism, the states on the alternative path have had to accommodate feminism as they take shape. Therefore, contentions over feminism have defined the state’s identity in relation to society, shaped the core agendas of the state concerning national development, and complicated the dynamics of competition among state elites. In short, the trajectory of state-making is distinctively feminist even though the results are not.
In this talk, I revisit the feminist trajectory in 1950s China (with reference to India), and outline the implications for existing theories of the state and its relationship to domestic and transnational feminist organizing.

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