Women in Asia

1st Edition

Louise Edwards, Mina Roces

Published March 10, 2009
Reference - 1704 Pages
ISBN 9780415445252 - CAT# RU52042
Series: Critical Concepts in Asian Studies


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The academic study of women in Asia developed in the 1970s as a result of the convergence of the then emerging disciplines of Asian Studies and Women’s Studies. Initially, work on women in Asia grew from traditional branches of learning such as history, anthropology, politics, and literary studies. More recently, it has incorporated cutting-edge areas of academic endeavour, including critical theory and new thinking on sexuality, labour, health, media, and material culture. As research in and around the area flourishes as never before, this new four-volume collection from Routledge meets the need for an authoritative reference work to make sense of a rapidly growing and ever more complex corpus of scholarly literature.

Drawing together in four volumes the key research which has shaped the dynamic academic field that explores women’s lives in the Asian region over the past four decades, and edited by two leading scholars, Women in Asia provides users with a comprehensive survey of all the major issues relating to women in the world’s fastest changing and most culturally diverse region.

Volume I (‘Women and Political Power’) brings together material which explores the engagement by women in Asia with the law (e.g. struggles to acquire equal pay and inheritance rights), formal political power (e.g. structural blocks to their participation in government), and education. This volume also gathers vital contributions on women’s activism (e.g. feminist groups, comfort women’s groups, housewives’ unions, and transnational activism).

Volume II (‘Redefining Working Women’) collects research around topics including: women and unions; women in paid and unpaid labour (e.g. the gendered division of labour in Asian households); women as migrant workers; women in development; prostitution and trafficking; and women as carers.

Volume III (‘Health and Sexuality’) brings together the best—and most influential—scholarship on contentious themes such as the increasing imbalance in sex ratios in the region as a result of female infanticide, sex-selective abortions, and the kidnapping of wives. Research gathered in this volume also covers reproductive health; violence against women (e.g. female genital mutilation, dowry burnings, and honour killings); same-sex attraction and diverse gender identity; and medicine and health care (including work on traditional medicine and mental-health problems specific to women in the region, such as the high suicide rates in China and South Asia).

The material collected in Volume IV (‘Constructions of the Feminine’) focuses on women in the family (e.g. gendered role expectations); women in religion; Western perceptions of Asian women (e.g. stereotypes of passivity); women in the arts; and official discourses on the feminine (such as the promotion by Asian governments of gender roles).

Women in Asia is fully indexed and each of the four volumes has a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editors, which provides extended reading lists and places the material in its historical and intellectual context. It is an essential work of reference and is destined to be valued by scholars and students—as well as policy-makers and community activists—as a vital one-stop research resource.

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