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Title: Nation, fashion and women's everyday lives : breast-binding in China, 1910s-1970s
Author: Jiao, Lin
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 1574
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores how nationalism, fashion and women's everyday lives intersect with each other from the 1910s to the 1970s in China, with a specific focus on the female breast and the practice of breast-binding. Since the late Qing period, breastbinding was reported as a new fashion trend among urban women. An anti-breastbinding movement followed up in 1927, with important male and female elites criticising this practice from various aspects of nationalism, emancipation, aesthetics, and women's health. From the late 1930s to the 1940s, there seemed a moment breast-binding faded away from mainstream practice. Yet after the 1950s, it appeared again and the practice remained common among women from various backgrounds until the end of the Mao era. Why did women continue to bind their breasts from the 1910s to the 1970s, despite the tremendous social, cultural and political changes throughout this period? Fully recogonising the complexity of this issue, I argue that throughout this period, the female body was constructed as an index to women's emancipation, fashion development, and nationalist or communist ideology. Women's bodily choices were largely dependent on peer pressure, which derived from contemporaneous fashion, ideology and the ambiguous yet persistent shame of the female body. Based on a wide range of sources including periodicals, archives, memoirs, artifacts, visual materials, literature and oral histories, this research provides fresh methodological and historical insights into women's history. Chronologically, while existing scholarship tends to regard Republican and Communist China as two separate and distinct eras, this project examines the long-term change as well as the continuities throughout the two eras from the perspective of the female body, which will shed new light on our knowledge about nationalism, sexuality, fashion and women's daily lives in modern Chinese history.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral