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China and Inner Asia
In Session: Chinese Feminisms as Transnational Feminisms
1: Maneuvering Within and Without: Chinese Feminisms in Transnational Flows and State Domination, 1995-2020
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Indiana University Bloomington, United States
The 4th World Conference on Women organized by the United Nations in Beijing in 1995 launched a new era of internationalization for feminist organizing and theorizing in China. This paper studies a group of feminist brokers who bridged knowledge, resources, and networks, and maneuvered behind the scenes to advance the feminist movements in China and worldwide. In order to capture the “uneven, often unequal, and complex” (Grewal & Kaplan 2000) power relations among various feminist groups, and to recognize the strength that feminism holds for border-crossing alliances, I draw on transnational feminist theories that blur the problematic boundaries such as ‘global’ vs ‘local,’ ‘West’ vs ‘East,’ and ‘within vs ‘without’ the party-state system. By highlighting the interactions between feminists from the mainland of China and their peers oversea, including those from Taiwan and Hong Kong, I will elucidate the role of South-South feminist exchanges and alliances to deepen understanding of how gender concepts, feminist ideas and activism strategies were localized and transformed across the region, and how the geopolitical dynamics of the region influenced potential communication and cooperation among feminists, and how Chinese feminists and organizations communicated with a more diverse group of transnational actors. This paper aims to 1) evaluate what the struggles of Chinese feminists within an authoritarian regime can teach us about the potential of transnational feminist movements; and 2) conceptualize transnational feminist alliances flow across borders, transcend differences, and speak to a broad spectrum of women.