Feminist Knots

Project Details


My argument is that failed cold war narratives in East Asia have nonetheless effecteddivisions in feminist knowledge which in turn render complex lives and livelihoodsharder to read and live. I propose to reread ethnographies, legal histories and fictionof wives and concubines and prostitutes in order to analyze the grammar whereinthe concubine is cast in compulsory transition from primary wife towife-in-monogamy. In other words, historians’ and social scientists’ readings of familyand the disappearing concubine in their midst will be tracked so as to betterunderstand the connection between what I term wife-in-monogamy, and a Marxistfeminist housewifization as part of the second international division of labor set inmotion in the eighties worldwide. I argue with the polarization or conflation of ahistoric prostitute-concubine-wife continuum into housewife versus prostitute insouthwestern Chinese speaking areas, as this tends to prevent discernment ofdomestic division of (sexual) labor among women and minor men. Historic intragender, ethnic-racial and intergenerational division of household labor can beobscured with such a bifocal gender lens. I also argue with feminist theorizing andstrategies that uphold division in thought between housework (unwaged orunderpaid) and sex work (waged yet illegal). This amounts to assuming the verydivisions that shore up industrial capital and state reproductive regimes yet obscureagential strategy and sexual opportunity. It is these historic divisions that in turntranspose primary wife position onto and as wife-in-monogamy, obscuring womensuch as concubines, maids, prostitutes, whose work shares in and shores up, thussubsidizing the primary wife position and/in the household. Finally, I question a failedcold sex war effect emanating from the US-UK in “international” anti-traffickingfeminism that intensify divisions among women and feminists in Taiwan, deepeningfractures arising from the “hot wars” of the past century, including but not limited tothe Sino-Japanese war and the Chinese civil war whose quietly violent afterlife intothe present was ensured by US cold war narrative, however failed elsewhere(Wallerstein).
Effective start/end date1/08/1631/07/17

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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