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Bound Feet, Young HandsTracking the Demise of Footbinding in Village China$
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Laurel Boussen and Hill Gates

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780804799553

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804799553.001.0001

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Questions About Footbinding

Questions About Footbinding

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter One Questions About Footbinding
Source:
Bound Feet, Young Hands
Author(s):

Laurel Bossen

Hill Gates

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804799553.003.0001

This chapter challenges assumptions that footbinding was confined to the urban elite and that women with bound feet were unproductive. On the contrary, footbinding was very common among poor villagers who could not afford to support unproductive members. Examining the enormous historical importance of women’s work in China’s handcraft textile production, this chapter argues for the importance of handwork performed by footbound daughters. Emphasizing the work girls performed before marriage, this chapter also considers the misdirections and omissions that have sidetracked queries about a practice that debilitated hundreds of millions of Chinese girls and women. Feminist historians and economic historians alike have underestimated the significance of hand labor by young girls and failed to examine its links to footbinding.

Keywords:   footbinding, handcrafts, girls’ labor, female labor, women’s studies, gender, industrial competition, textile production, China’s economic history

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