On the Utility and Methodology of the Comparative History of Gender

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In both China and Greece, history initially emerged as a mode of discourse closely related to the state. With the rise of comparative global history, however, historians have severed this link, providing scholars of gender with novel tools and perspectives for investigating their subject. Specialists in trans-national history have reflected deeply on the uses and methodology of their pursuit, and their conclusions provide useful guidance for historians of gender who venture beyond national borders. Three studies comparing gender conditions in China with ancient Greece and Persia provide practical case studies on how this sort of research can be conducted, and what sort of contributions it might yield.

On the Utility and Methodology of the Comparative History of Gender




Prasenjit DuaraRescuing History from the Nation: Questioning Narratives of Modern China (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press1995) 66.


Patrick O’Brien“Historiographical Traditions and Modern Imperatives for the Restoration of Global History,” Global History 1.1 (2006): 3–39.


Robin FoxKinship and Marriage: An Anthropological Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press1984).


Gloria DaviesWorrying About China: The Language of Chinese Critical Inquiry (Cambridge: Harvard University Press2007) 32–3.


Xia Zhiqian“Was There Ever a Matriarchy?” Chinese Sociology & Anthropology 25.4 (1993): 8–13.


Merry Wiesner-Hanks“World History and the History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality,” Journal of World History 18.1 (2007): 53–67 and see 54.

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