Speaker: Harriet Zurndorfer
Abstract: This lecture focuses on men and women engaged in China’s sexual economy, which is dominated by the exchange between wealthy and politically influential men and unmarried young women who trade their femininity and sexuality for material wealth and financial security from these men. Drawing on analyses of the popular 2009 television serial, Woju (Dwelling Narrowness), coupled with recent ethnographic studies, the lecture aims to demonstrate how this sexual economy thrives in the increasingly competitive and commercial urban landscape of present-day China. It will also attempt to view gender dynamics within the context of the socioeconomic changes during the past three decades and to investigate how gender inequality became assimilated into both official and popular discourses of Chinese life, thereby facilitating the ascendancy and power of the sexual economy.
Harriet Zurndorfer is affiliated with the Leiden Institute for Area Studies in the Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University where she has worked since 1978. She is the author of Change and Continuity in Chinese History: The Development of Hui-chou Prefecture 800 to 1800 (Brill, 1989), China Bibliography: A Research Guide to Reference Works about China Past and Present (Brill, 1995; paperback edition, University of Hawaii Press, 1999), and editor of the compilation Chinese Women in the Imperial Past: New Perspectives (Brill,1999). She has also published more than 200 scholarly articles and reviews. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of the journal Nan Nü: Men, Women and Gender in China, issued since 1999. Currently, she is serving as one of the editors to the four-volume Cambridge World History of Violence, and is a contributor to the Cambridge Economic History of China.