Social Identities and Contemporary Issues in the Sinosphere
Emotional Debt: Unearthing Female Voices Amid Local Credit Crises in Southeast Coastal China
Friday, March 25, 2022
1:30pm – 3:00pm EST
Location: Conv. Center, Room 315
University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Abstract: The paper aims to investigate women and private credit in southeast coastal China in the 1980s by focusing on incidents of credit crises in local communities. While having been major agents in the private credit market for decades, the voice of local women in coastal China was largely left out when credit crises in the 1980s were generated into collective memory. Women were portrayed as suicides, claimants, protestors, insolvents, absconders, incarcerators, and defrauders while their financial contributions to the success of the local economy have rarely been acknowledged in most contemporary scholarly work. To bring women back to the centre of the narrative, the paper combines archival sources and interviews to demonstrate the agency of elder women of these coastal communities who have been marginalised in the official narrative. It details how local women obtained, used and invested money and illustrates the local circulation of private credit that these women maintained. It closely studies one of the informal financial instruments ‘hui’, which is a private credit union, and examines how the hui and credit crises were portrayed in the local narrative. Special attention is given to the emotional entanglement in local communities between individuals and families who struggled through credit crises. By recapturing the voice of local women in the crises, the paper re-evaluates the social meaning of money and credit from a gender perspective against the backdrop of rural industrialisation in coastal China.