As the Association for Asian American Studies convenes this week in San Francisco, we are making a selection of content from our journals program available to read for free for a limited time. We hope that these articles will provoke discussion among AAAS attendees and the wider community of Asian American studies scholars. We encourage you to post/comment online using the #AAAS2018 hashtag.
Boom California‘s peer-reviewed articles exploring the vital issues of our time in California and the world beyond, are always free to read online. In coming weeks, Boom will be publishing additional articles on the theme of Vietnamese California, so please keep an eye on the site.
It is almost 40 years to the day since the world’s first so-called ‘test tube baby’ was born in the United Kingdom in July 1978. A few months later, in 1979, China’s one child policy was conceived. In the intervening years an estimated 6 million IVF babies have been born throughout the world while it is said that the one-child policy has prevented some 140 million births in China. In the last 40 years, contraception, sterilisation and abortion—at times forcibly realized—have been the most important means of state-stipulated family planning in China. The consequences are well known: a sex-ratio skewed generation of singletons who are alternately described as spoiled ‘little emperors’ and burdened sons and daughters living under enormous competition and pressure.
Today, when it comes to family planning in China, it would appear the tables have turned. China needs babies, and they need them now if they are to look after a rapidly ageing population. In 2015, the government famously tweaked its one-child policy into its current two-child policy which for the first time since the 1980s allows all married couples to have two children if they so wish. The problem is that, if early indications are anything to go by, it doesn’t seem that married couples are interested.
Much like elsewhere in the world, young people in China are deferring marriage and reproduction (the average age at first birth is approaching 30 in larger cities), concentrating instead on their education and careers. Once they do decide to have children, they quickly find out how exorbitantly expensive it is to have a child as pregnancy, child birth, childcare, school, and college costs stack up. There are intense pressures to give birth to and raise ‘high quality’ children. Moreover, many grew up as singletons themselves and are thereby used to small families. In short, China has become what demographers refer to as a ‘low fertility culture’. While there is nothing surprising about China’s fertility transition (these always follow in the wake of economic development), it is its compressed nature that is unprecedented.
So how will China get more babies? If the experience of other low fertility cultures is anything to go by, it won’t be easy. But one thing is for sure. Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are now poised to replace sterilisation and abortion as the most important family planning means. In my book Good Quality, based on 7 years of episodic fieldwork at the world’s largest fertility clinic and associated sperm bank in Changsha, Hunan province, I document the difficult birth and routinization of ARTs in China. The CITIC-Xiangya Reproductive and Genetic Hospital now carries out over 40,000 IVF cycles annually – which is about ¼ of annual cycles carried out in the entire USA – while also screening up to 6,000 potential sperm donors. While these are astounding figures, they are but a dent in a growing market for ARTs in China. With more and more couples deferring reproduction it is inevitable that more people will require assistance when trying to conceive.
Ayo Wahlberg is Professor MSO in the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen. He is coeditor of Selective Reproduction in the Twenty-First Century and Southern Medicine for Southern People: Vietnamese Medicine in the Making.
More than 2,000 individuals and groups submitted designs for the Olympic and Paraolympic mascots for the 2020 games in Tokyo. The winners, however, were selected by millions of Japanese school children. Was it the hope that the sensibilities of children would be universal? Or was it the sentimental appeal of children as decision-makers themselves that guided that choice? Either way, in Japan and elsewhere, emotions often erupt when children are in the mix. Across a range of different media, in Japan and around the world, current debates reflect and fuel concerns about whether, for instance, children lend themselves particularly easily to a politics of distraction, children are merely born to buy, or, indeed, whether babies have come to rule the world. We ask ourselves why children don’t want to grow up, or whether childhood has dramatically changed to the degree of being irrevocably lost.
And what of children in the past? The further back into the historical record we delve, the more limited is our access. It was monks, not family members, who first found it necessary to call attention to children. While children are not absent from medieval accounts, they appear most often in literary accounts, often in ways that expose the workings of the gods in human affairs, as in taking on unexpected roles or performing superhuman deeds. In early modern Japan, the publishing industry started producing textbooks and childrearing manuals, woodblock prints and fiction that took children as their themes. Letters and diaries too get us much closer to childhood experiences than ever before. Nonetheless, it is only in modern Japan that magazines for children appear and writings by children survive. Sometimes, representations of children in discourse and film are as close as we can get to comprehending either their experience or how adults might have viewed them at the time, be that as burdensome or useful, or worthy of love, care, education, reform, or control.
We begin with three essays, moving from Buddhist monasteries in medieval Japan to the multi-generational homes of samurai families in the early modern period. Covering the early twentieth century, another set of essays sheds light on how interior design, film, and the efforts of what we might call “soft power colonization” have envisioned children. Under the specter of the Asia Pacific War, diaries and children’s books and magazines provide clues about how children envisioned adulthood, how they played, and how their “emotional capital” became a concept that survived both war and defeat. Finally, speaking to the concerns of contemporary Japan are four essays that center on play and discipline, norms, and, again, the political uses of not quite “the child” but the remnants of the modern conception of “the child”: innocence, harmlessness, and vulnerability – all qualities so well embodied by the mascots that will populate the 2020 Olympics and Paraolympics in Tokyo.
Sabine Frühstück is Professor of Modern Japanese Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her publications include Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan and Uneasy Warriors: Gender, Memory and Popular Culture in the Japanese Army.
Child’s Playis published in University of California Press’s Luminos open access book program. Click here to download a free digital copy.
Sign up for the Luminos eNewsletter to learn more about future Luminos publications and other Luminos news.
In the eighteenth-century, the scholar Mirza Khan observed that India had many languages, but as far as languages in which literature was composed, there were only three: Sanskrit, the “language of the gods”; the vernacular, the “language of men”; and Prakrit, the “language of the snakes” (nāgabānī) who lived below the earth. Sanskrit was, still in the eighteenth century, the one of the main languages of literary expression and intellectual pursuits. The vernacular languages—closely related to the modern languages of India, such as Hindi—were quickly gaining ground. But what was Prakrit, this third thing? Where do we place it in relation to Sanskrit and the vernacular?
Sanskrit and Prakrit, like other languages, are both natural phenomena and cultural practices, and Language of the Snakes offers a history of Prakrit as a cultural practice. And precisely because of its status as a “third thing,” Prakrit’s history offers a unique perspective onto the dramatic changes in the ways that language in general was thought about, represented, and used—what I call the “language order” of a culture.
That history begins about seventeen centuries before Mirza Khan. At the turn of the common era, a new kind of literature was appearing all over India. This “art-literature,” called kāvyam in Sanskrit and kavvaṁ in Prakrit, was composed in both languages. They were in competition with each other, but the competition was never very serious. Sanskrit was already well-established as a language of ritual and its associated systems of thought, whereas Prakrit was new, and cultivated mainly in the Deccan plateau, in what is now the state of Maharashtra. What’s more, Sanskrit and Prakrit were closely related, like Italian and French. Composing in one rather than another was more of a matter of aesthetic choice than anything else. Within the rapidly-spreading discourse of “art-literature,” Prakrit authors staked out the genre of lyric poetry, and especially the short, suggestive, and erotic verse that is collected in an early anthology called Seven Centuries. One of its verses reads:
tassa a sōhaggaguṇaṁ amahilasarisaṁ ca sāhasaṁ majjha
jāṇaï gōlāūrō vāsārattaddharattō a
What he was lucky enough to enjoy,
and what daring risks I took,
which no woman should take—
the floodwaters of the Gōdāvarī river know,
and the small hours of monsoon nights.
In such verses, a new aesthetic sensibility found expression in a new literary language. Both were destined to become enormously popular, and form part of a cultural package that spread throughout much of Southern Asia. After roughly a millennium, Prakrit literature was not only studied from Kashmir to Kerala; it was a central component of “the literary” itself. During this period it was considered identical to Sanskrit on some level, and at the same time, completely opposed to it. The complementarity of Sanskrit and Prakrit was deeply embedded in representations of language in India, the most enduring among them being the threefold schema to which Mirza Khan referred. This meant that to think about language meant to think about the sets of oppositions that Sanskrit and Prakrit offered, and to use language, in a literary text at least, meant to choose either Sanskrit or Prakrit.
Andrew Ollett works on the literary and intellectual traditions of premodern India.
Language of the Snakesis published in University of California Press’s Luminos open access book program. Click here to download a free digital copy.
Sign up for the Luminos eNewsletter to learn more about future Luminos publications and other Luminos news.
Whether or not you are attending the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, which is being held this week in Washington, DC, we invite you to read a selection of content from Asian Survey and the Journal of Vietnamese Studies for free for a limited time. We hope that this content will inspire further discourse and encourage you to continue the conversation online using the conference hashtag #AAS2018.
The Journal of Vietnamese Studies is making its current issue free for a limited time. Since the journal publishes content that is of interest both to Asian Studies scholars and to scholars of Asian American Studies, we are also encouraging attendees of the annual conference of the Association for Asian American Studies, which is being held next week in San Francisco, to read and discuss this issue using the conference hashtag #AAAS2018 and to watch for our AAAS-focused post next week, which will feature additional content from JVS and other journals.
In recognition of World Water Day 2018, in this post, we speak with Dr. Heather O’Leary, an environmental anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, about citizen science and how water researchers can engage with marginalized communities to improve water quality. Her article “Engaging Science for Inclusive Water Governance: An engaged ethnographic approach to WaSH data collection in Delhi, India” publishes soon in UC Press’s journal Case Studies in the Environment.
UC Press: Tell us a little about the informal settlements, or “slums,” of Delhi, India where you conducted your water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) research.
Heather O’Leary: My research shows how we can use water as a lens to demonstrate core challenges and opportunities to sustainable urban development. One of my research questions has always been: How do different development patterns challenge people’s relationship to critical life-giving natural resources, like water? In Asia’s booming megacities, like many cities worldwide, people make deeply ingrained cultural assumptions about who belongs and what they are entitled to—and this is evident through measurable, material contexts, like water quantities and qualities.
In Delhi, I examined three interstitial sites—places “in-between”—where the answers to questions about water are presumed to be known without any formal scientific verification. Of these sites, rapidly transforming demographic and infrastructures of informal “slum” communities showed dynamic transformations between people by using water as a sign of upward mobility.
Many people who in-migrate to cities are seeking a better life, or are being pushed into cities from areas with lesser access to opportunities and resources. New trajectories of upward mobility can be both indicated by new access to water and new practices of water use. But a lot of the water acquired in informal settlement communities is either not legal or hard to come by, since deliveries to squatter residents are not well supported by the larger urban community. Typically, residents of legal homes get a few hours of water pressure through municipal pipes each day. In some communities, wells and public standpipes are also sources of water. The Delhi Jal Board (the municipal water organization) also sends tanker-trucks of water to roadside pickup points. Tankers are sent to informal communities that the city does not want to legitimize with civic infrastructure and also in relief situations—for wealthy communities in times of scarcity or to poor, informal neighborhoods with a population spike. Access to water is precious and signals a lot about where and how a person fits into the narrative of the city.
So, as you can imagine, people are hesitant to talk about even the most mundane aspects of water collection and storage. Essentially, they risk losing a precious leg-up they have in a city not entirely hospitable to them. This is one reason why, in my WaSH research, I collaborate with residents to discover, in their own words, how do they determine who belongs to a city.
For instance, by what magical transformation do recent in-migrants demonstrate they are now city-folk, and how does water sourced from the countryside and deep wells become the most salient symbol of urban contemporary life? Because this question is hard to measure through words alone, residents use water access as a proxy for deeper, ineffable cultural issues that mediate millions of peoples’ relationship to the people and resources around them. The research presented in my CSE article gives a snapshot of one way to improve research techniques in informal communities. It was collected over 18 continuous months of fieldwork in Delhi as part of my decades-long research in the cultural dimensions of human-environment interactions.
UC Press: What are some of the dangers of imposing research on marginalized communities, rather than engaging and empowering them in the research process?
Heather O’Leary: When researchers impose their projects on marginalized communities not only do they risk reproducing the inaccuracies of past research, but they also perpetuate a long history of extractivist epistemic violence. That is to say, many research traditions treat marginalized communities as case studies and the people within them as objects of study. This harmfully reduces populations of human beings into repositories of data ready to be analyzed by clever folks trained in scientific research traditions. But this privileges only certain ways of knowing, or epistemologies. In other words, this is a system that downplays the critical diversity of the ways in which we can understand problems and solutions.
By dehumanizing experts in other knowledge traditions and other knowledge areas (for example, experts in navigating slum life), it makes it seem more ok to treat other humans not as peers but as objects of study. This has perpetuated stratified systems of who is considered an expert and what knowledge traditions are considered legitimate. Yet, research in situ, with boots-on-the-ground, does not typically require the objective distance and non-disruption of blind experiments conducted in a lab. In fact, subjectivity is a strength of field research that only grows when researchers openly acknowledge their situatedness—or how their identities have affected their research. Instead of ignoring privilege and vast histories of hierarchy perpetuated by the supposedly objective gaze, when working in the field researchers should actively engage and empower partners in marginalized communities. Through collaboration and seeing the world through the eyes of other capable experts, empowering marginalized populations by treating them as citizen-scientists can be a powerful engine to generating new insight and better research, not to mention taking a step toward more ethical science.
UC Press: Research projects leveraging data from citizen-scientists have become increasingly common in recent decades, but oftentimes, underprivileged communities are under-represented in these projects. What are some of the benefits of better democratizing citizen science?
Heather O’Leary: Researchers take a step in the right direction when they try to broaden the representation of their samples to include traditionally underrepresented populations. Not only does this help close the critical gaps in sampling representation, but it also recognizes these populations as stakeholders who participate in systems—from being affected by dangers, to coping through creative solutions.
However, I join a critical community of scholars who argue that many inclusion tactics treat people in underprivileged communities as objects, rather than subjects. Essentially, this means that researchers observe and collect data on populations without forming essential partnerships that recognize the agency and talents of everyday people. By approaching members of underrepresented populations as legitimate, credible experts who collect untapped data and form complex theories governing their everyday experiences, researchers glean a whole lot more than diverse participation in data collection.
Democratizing citizen-science means including everyday people as partners in every step along the way: framing research projects, troubleshooting methods, interpreting resulting data, and determining next steps towards broader impact. By democratizing citizen-science, researchers issue a powerful invitation to participate in creating more nuanced hypotheses, higher-quality data collection, and holistic systemic solutions. My article demonstrates one of many instances where training and partnering with people in the local community generated even better research frameworks and how these partnerships mobilized a community of citizen-scientists to improve WaSH according to their specific, local needs.
This could mark an exciting new juncture in how we approach the “wicked problem” of urban WaSH and human-environmental interactions more broadly. Consider that as a global community we’ve made laudable, marked progress towards eradicating and reducing waterborne and vector disease. We have also worked toward reducing the barriers to clean, adequate levels of water at multi-scalar levels: from transnational rivers and aquifers, to balanced uses shared in regions, to democratizing access in communities and homes. Yet, change may not be rapid enough. This may be because we’re working with models and solutions that either do not address the vast collective human knowledge on water management and, alarmingly, we systematically repress the expertise of the most hydraulically and socially marginalized. What new models of water management could be possible if we learned to work together, as partnered equals? Which existing knowledge tradition could unlock a sustainable water future for all? Rather than looking for solutions solely in the future of science, what if we also listened to the citizen experts among us just a little more closely?
Dr. O’Leary’s article is part of a forthcoming Case Studies in the Environment “special issue” on water science and collaborative governance for addressing water quality. For more on this special issue, see our call for papers here (submissions close May 1, 2018).
Case Studies in the Environment is a journal of peer-reviewed case-study articles, case-study pedagogy articles, and a repository for editor-reviewed case-study slides. The journal informs faculty, students, educators, professionals, and policymakers on case studies and best practices in the environmental sciences and studies.
In 1848, Karl Marx opened his manifesto with an eloquent sentence: “A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of communism.” One hundred and seventy years later, Laos and Vietnam are among the fastest growing economies of twenty-first century capitalism and the Chinese Communist Party plans to abandon the post-Mao doctrine of putting its assembly above any individual leader. Communism, which once materialized so prominently in East Asia, is little more than a faded ghost, haunting no one. Yet another specter has taken its place in Asia- the specter of authoritarianism.
Whether in terms of China’s attempts to establish a life-long chairmanship, Philippine’s systematic dismissal of habeas corpus or— as my work Owners of the Map analyzes—Thailand’s new forms of constitutional dictatorship, a new wind of authoritarianism is blowing over East Asia. Contrary to existing theories of the “end of history” or of “democratic transition” this wind does not waft against the wish of the middle classes, but rather with their support, and it is not a temporary breeze, destined to died out, but rather a stable wind, one that carries forward an alternative system of governance.
Much has been written on this trend as the result of geo-political, military, and economic push and pull between the patronage of the United States and that of China. These explanations, while important, miss a central element evident to anyone who spends time with office managers, business executives, and traditional elites in Thailand: the growing popularity of authoritarian ideology among local middle class, a popularity that finds its roots in the shifting local meaning of words like corruption, good governance, and rule of law.
During the last decade, the understanding of corruption among Thai middle classes underwent a radical transformation. Corruption today does no longer refer to someone misusing public office for private gain. The word’s semantic universe has expanded to include three major components. Firstly, a traditional understanding of corruption as taking advantage of your position to steal money or gain. Secondly, an idea of moral corruption, related to the intrinsic immoral nature of one’s personality. And, thirdly, a vision of electoral corruption that reframes any redistributive policy favoring the working masses as a form of vote-buying. Under these new meanings, elections themselves become a corrupt practice, one that favors populist leaders who, through policies, gain popular support without necessarily producing “good governance.”
The discourse of good governance itself has become central to Thai middle-classes ideological flirtations with authoritarianism. This mantra entered the country after the 1997 economic crisis, pushed by the IMF and the World Bank. These institutions understood the concept as a technocratic category, one that mostly meant efficient and transparent governance. In Thailand, however, the concept was translated by conservative political ideologues as thammarat, the governance of Dhamma, transforming good governance into righteous governance, a governance that does not rely on electoral support but rather on alignment with the monarch, the thammaraja.
While these semantic shifts in ideological categories may take local forms, they do not occur in an international vacuum. Previous authoritarian phases in Thailand—particularly the period between 1945 and 1992—had been supported, both economically and ideologically, by the United States and its anti-communist rhetoric. Since the 2014 coup, the junta has been looking to China for similar patronage. The alignment between the two governments has not just been the result of real politic and shifting international alliances but also rooted in parallel claims about the rule of law and corruption. In 2002, the 16th Chinese Communist Party Congress endorsed a new rhetoric of legalism, as a more efficient system to deal with equal and fair participation. Political scientist Pan Wei, in a famous article that took the shape of a political manifesto for legalism stated that “rule of law directly answers the most urgent need of Chinese society—curbing corruption in times of market economy. Electoral competition for government offices is not an effective way of curbing corruption; it could well lead to the concentration of power in the hands of elected leaders.” While not as sophisticated as Professor Pan, and not with the same ability to govern as the Chinese Communist Party, the system emerging in Thailand since the 2014 coup looks quite similar: a legalistic system in which non-elected officers create and enforce the law, above and beyond the electoral will of their population. The Thai transition from a polity in which people make the rules through elected parliamentarians to one in which the rules are imposed from above for the people and parliament to follow, has been legitimized on a basic principle: the superiority of unelected “good people” over elected politicians in preventing corruption and establishing good governance.
It would be easy to dismiss these changes has temporary pushbacks. Yet, my work argues, something deeper is changing around Southeast Asia, something that we will not see or understand unless we stop working under preset theories of democratic transition and we engage ethnographically with the shifting landscapes of class alliances, everyday ideologies, and forms of governance. These transformations, in fact, are particularly resistant to quantitative analysis and questionnaires. Often they do not imply the emergence of new terminologies or ideological concepts but rather the re-signification of words like corruption, good governance or rule of law. It is only when we spend long stretch of time with people and participates to their lives that these new meanings emerge. The risk of failing to see these transformations is a familiar one to people in the US: becoming aware of the emergence of a new political and social order when is too late to do anything about it.
Claudio Sopranzetti is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at All Souls College at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Red Journeys: Inside the Thai Red Shirt Movement.
Attending the Association for Asian Studies conference in Washington D.C.? No doubt your schedule is already jam packed, but make sure to stop by the UC Press booth (#219) to save 40% on new and bestselling titles in the field. Beforehand, head on over to our conference landing page to see what’ll be on display and take early advantage of our conference discount.
Check Out These AAS Sessions Featuring UC Press Authors:
Thursday, March 22nd:
7:30PM-9:30PM: Exploration and Management of Knowledge in Early Modern China and Japan (Fumiko Joo)
Location: Virginia Suite B, Lobby Level
Friday, March 23rd:
12:45PM-2:45PM: Bodies in Pain, Pleasure, and Flux: Transgressive Femininity in Japanese Media and Literature (Rebecca Copeland)
Location: Wilson B, Mezzanine Level
3:00PM-5:00PM: Reconsidering Recreating Japanese Women: On the Past, Present, and Future of Japanese Women’s and Gender History (Anne Walthall)
Location: Roosevelt Room 3, Exhibit Level
Saturday, March 24th:
10:45AM-12:45PM: Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping the Spaces of Japanese History (Kate McDonald)
Location: Thurgood Marshall North, Mezzanine
5:15PM-7:15PM: The Japanese Empire and Its Non-National Actors (Paul Barclay)
Location: Madison B, Mezzanine Level
Sunday, March 25th:
8:30AM-10:30AM: Challenges to the Sinophere (Joshua A. Fogel)
Location: Virginia Suite C, Lobby Level
10:45AM-12:45PM: Histories of Modern Buddhism in India (Richard Jaffe)
This weekend marks the one year anniversary of the largest single day protest in US history—the Women’s March—when on January 21, 2017, 4.2 million people marched across the US in more than 600 US cities, and from Antarctica to Zimbabwe, at least 261 more sister marches cropped up worldwide. To celebrate this pivotal protest, UC Press is highlighting titles across subjects as part of our Herstory series, with today’s focus on Women’s Histories, Memoirs, and Biographies recognizing the lives of incredible visionaries and rabble-rousers who shaped history. While just a preview of our publishing “herstory,” these titles will engage your intellect and inspire your activism today, tomorrow, and for future tomorrows.
Race Women Internationalists explores how a group of Caribbean and African American women in the early and mid-twentieth century traveled the world to fight colonialism, fascism, sexism, and racism. Bringing together the entangled lives of three notable but overlooked women: Eslanda Robeson, Paulette Nardal, and Una Marson, it explores how, between the 1920s and the 1960s, the trio participated in global freedom struggles by traveling; building networks in feminist, student, black-led, anticolonial, and antifascist organizations; and forging alliances with key leaders to challenge various forms of inequality facing people of African descent across the diaspora and the continent.
Ronnie Gilbert was an American folk singer, songwriter, actress and political activist whose lifelong work for political and social change was central to her role as a performer. Best known as a member of the Weavers, the quartet of the 1950s and ’60s that survived the Cold War blacklist and helped popularize folk music in America, Gilbert continued to tour, play music, and protest well into her 70s and 80s. Covering sixty years of her remarkable life, her memoir is an engaging historical document for readers interested in music, theater, American politics, the women’s movement, and left-wing activism.
A primer for social justice activists today, Lavender and Red tells the political and intellectual history of the lesbian feminist and gay liberation movements that linked sexual liberation to radical solidarity against imperialism, war, and racism. With archival research, oral histories, and vibrant images, Emily K. Hobson intertwines the history of political struggles of the 1970s through the 1990s.
Jody Williams is an American political activist known for her work toward the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines—for which she became the tenth woman and third American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She’s also well-known for her defense of human rights, especially women’s rights, and in 2006, she helped to launch the Nobel Women’s Initiative to spotlight and promote efforts of women’s rights activists, researchers and organizations working to advance peace, justice and equality for women. Her memoir offers a candid look at her lifelong dedication to global activism.
“Activism can be the journey rather than the arrival.”—Grace Lee Boggs
Grace Lee Boggs was a lifelong revolutionary, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America. The Next American Revolution is a powerful retrospective to Boggs’s participation in some of the greatest struggles of the last century, from anti-capitalist labor movements of the 1940s and 1950s to the Black Power Movement to contemporary urban environmental activism. It is a manifesto for creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that will collectively constitute the next American Revolution.
These socialist state feminists—who maneuvered behind the scenes of the Chinese Communist Party—worked to advance gender and class equality in the early People’s Republic of China and fought to transform sexist norms and practices, all while facing fierce opposition from a male-dominated CCP leadership. Illuminating not only the different visions of revolutionary transformation but also the causes for failure of China’s socialist revolution, Finding Women in the State raises fundamental questions about male dominance in social movements that aim to pursue social justice and equality.
Denise Levertov was a poet, essayist, and political activist whose work focused on social and political issues. She was outspoken in her opposition to the Vietnam War, and helped form the Artists and Writers Protest Against the War in Vietnam. Additionally, she worked as a poetry editor for The Nation in the ’60s and for Mother Jones in the ’70s, and in 1963, she received the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. This authoritative biography captures the complexity of Levertov as both woman an artist, and the dynamic world she inhabited.