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To help non-Asian specialists such as myself make sense of the variety of roles and perspectives of women, the book is organized topically, with chapters on Kinship, Wealth and Work (detailing social class differences), Law, Government, Education, and Ritual. Regardless of topic, Hinsch finds a number of common threads common to women: how Chinese understanding of gender shapes societal roles from the economic interdependence of genders (in work, regardless of social class and marriage) and the social status of women (within households and, by extension, the empire), to the importance of women's participation in the spiritual life of ancient China. Much to my suprise, the place and role of women was much more vibrant, active and highly regarded than I had imagined.
For those interested in womens' studies, ancient Chinese history or the Han dynasty in particular, I strongly recommend this book. For the armchair historian, Hinsch does not presuppose knowledge of Chinese culture and history and goes to great lengths to explain and "break down" many of the terms and concepts alien to a western audience. It is a fascinating read.Women in Early Imperial China (Asia/Pacific/Perspectives) Overview
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