Stephanie Michelle Montgomery
- Assistant Professor
- St. Olaf College
Gender, Criminality, and the Prison in China, 1928 to 1953
My research on female prisoners in Tianjin, Qingdao and Shanghai prisons from 1928-1953 will contribute to our understanding of a disenfranchised group of women whose lives touched on national issues of criminality, citizen-making, and gender. By looking at internal prison records in the municipal archives of all three cities, I will explore the material lives of these women, their wardens and caretakers, and the discourse that surrounded their reform.
Problem Women: Gender, Criminality, and the Prison in Republican China, 1928-1949
My project examines state penal reform and actual living conditions of incarcerated women in Shanghai and Tianjin, China, during twenty-one years of Nationalist, Japanese, and Communist rule. I analyze archival court documents of lower-class women charged with non-political crimes, which in turn became research material for penologists and criminologists concerned with criminality and citizen-making. My research argues that planners and prison reform advocates understood women’s reform to be integral to successful state building in 20th-century China. This has implications for larger issues in the humanities, including our understanding of historical prison conditions, the lives of women inmates, and the treatment of vulnerable populations in modernizing societies.