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Leta Hong Fincher – The Feminist Awakening in China
September 19, 2018 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Speaker: Leta Hong Fincher, Author
Listen to Leta Hong Fincher’s podcast interview with the Fairbank Center’s “Harvard on China” podcast:
Leta Hong Fincher 洪理达 is author of the book Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China (Verso 2018).
On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for 37 days. The Feminist Five became a global cause célèbre, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf, and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. But the Feminist Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of university students, civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists and online warriors that is prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s urban, educated women. In Betraying Big Brother, journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses a unique threat to China’s authoritarian regime today.
Through interviews with the Feminist Five and other leading Chinese activists, Hong Fincher illuminates both the challenges they face and their “joy of betraying Big Brother,” as Wei Tingting—one of the Feminist Five—wrote of the defiance she felt during her detention. Tracing the rise of a new feminist consciousness now finding expression through the #MeToo movement, and describing how the Communist regime has suppressed the history of its own feminist struggles, Betraying Big Brother is a story of how the movement against patriarchy could reconfigure China and the world.
Leta’s critically acclaimed book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China (Zed 2014) was named one of the top 5 China books of 2014 by the Asia Society’s ChinaFile, one of the best foreign policy books in 2014 by FP Interrupted and one of the best Asian books of 2014 by Asia House. Leftover Women was named on New Left Review’s list of favorite books to read for International Women’s Day in 2017 and 2016. In 2018, it was named on Time Out Beijing’s list of best books on women in modern China.
Leta has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Dissent Magazine, Ms. Magazine, BBC, CNN and others. She is the recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for television feature reporting. Fluent in Mandarin, Leta is the first American to receive a Ph.D. from Tsinghua University’s Department of Sociology in Beijing. She has a master’s degree from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree with high honors from Harvard University. She has often been quoted by news organizations such as BBC, CNN, Washington Post, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, TIME and The Economist on the subject of women and feminism in China. Named by the Telegraph as an “awesome woman to follow on Twitter,” Leta was a Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor at Columbia University and recently moved to New York.