Reproductive Subjects: The Global Politics of Health in Nationalist China


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History and Women's Studies


In the 1920s, the aims of international health organizations, a nationalistic revolution, and rising US influence converged on the reproductive functions of Chinese women. While the intertwined projects of philanthropy, nation-building, and imperialism relied on biomedical understandings of women’s bodies to differentiate between those fit to provide aid and those in need, Chinese feminists operating within their own transnational networks appropriated the facts of maternal and infant mortality to demand constitutional protections for women’s health and welfare. This project probes the reciprocal relations among these diverse actors to examine why the mundane acts of childbirth and mothering proved integral to Chinese nationalism, transnational feminisms, global health, and a realignment of political power in the interwar world. Through a macropolitical analysis of archival sources from China, Taiwan, Switzerland, and the United States, this project contributes new analytical tools for Chinese history, transnational histories of gender and medicine, and feminist theory.