Mothers, Daughters and Gendered Subjectivities

This research project explores women's subjective understandings and experiences of gender in a world in which enormous changes are reshaping their lives.

Research project leader: Professor Harriet Evans

Books

The Subject of Gender: Mothers and Daughters in Urban China, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007. 

Synopsis: in this book Prof. Evans discusses mother-daughter relationships in urban China, reflecting on how women make sense of the shifts in practices and representations of gender that frame their lives, and how their self-identification as mothers and daughters contributes to the redefinition of those practices. Based on the memories and experiences of educated and professional women of different ages, the mother-daughter relationship is discussed through various themes such as separation, communication, domestic/public boundaries, male privilege, the sexed body, reproduction and filial responsibilities.

Papers

Goutong: between daughters and mothers in contemporary urban China

Paper presented by Harriet Evans at the Annual BACS Conference 2004
'GOUTONG: COMMUNICATING', Durham University, January 2004.

This paper explores the notion of 'goutong' in reflections on their relationship with their mothers that emerged in conversations I had with four young women in Beijing in the spring of 2002. The term 'goutong' is prominent in popular media culture in Beijing, and is a standard feature of the day-to-day language used by young people in Beijing. Oprah Winfrey's 'let's talk about it' indicates a register and a definition of the term that comes close to the way it currently circulates in popular culture in Beijing. This paper, in contrast, examines the gendered inflections of the concept in references to trust, connectedness, affection, and the desire for intimacy with the mother. The term 'goutong' offers a lens to analyse aspects of the relationship between daughter and mother which constitute a crucial part of young women's sense of themselves as women.