Program

Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Collaborative Reading-Workshop Grants , Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships

Project

Women at Work: Reconstructing Nügong through Text and Image

Project

Tea Countries: Labor and Political Economic Thought in China and India, 1834 to 1937

Department

History

Women at Work: Reconstructing Nügong through Text and Image

This collaborative reading workshop shall add to our understanding of the everyday practices of nügong – translated variously as “women’s work,” or “womanly work,” – through an interdisciplinary approach to the texts on the production of textiles in Ming-Qing China (1550-1750). In this workshop, we reconstruct the material conditions of women’s textile work by identifying how, where, and with what women worked. We bring together social and cultural historians, historians of technology, and art historians to participate in cross-disciplinary close readings of the images and texts, which depicted how women spun and wove cloth. We aim to clarify the historical relationship between gender and labor by engaging with the underlying conditions of knowledge and skill formation.

Tea Countries: Labor and Political Economic Thought in China and India, 1834 to 1937

My study analyzes the transformative competition between the tea-growing hinterlands of China and India in transnational and comparative terms. It offers a new interpretation of rural China, so often depicted as parochial and static, by situating it within global and dynamic patterns. Past macroeconomic studies have emphasized questions of growth, characterizing Asia in terms of its divergence from English development. By contrast, I argue that a different approach, one emphasizing global connections and focused on labor practices and economic thought, reveals that China and India were reshaped by the same social dynamics of industrial capitalism facing much of the world. In turn, this work expands the history of capitalism into the unlikely sites of the Chinese and Indian "tea countries."