A medieval feminist critique of the Chinese world order: The case of Wu Zhao (r. 690–705)

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Abstract

Medieval Chinese held that the circumscribed social space women might inhabit in life was encoded in the nature of their bodies. Gender conceptions common to China’s three religions—Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism—confirmed that women were allied to the passive and inner. Accounts of the only woman in Chinese history to occupy the throne in her own name, Wu Zhao, follow Chinese historians in portraying her as contravening this cosmology. Drawing on recent studies of the religious history of the body, I argue instead that Wu Zhao constructed a legitimizing strategy that took seriously, in ways not contemplated before, these fundamental tenets of Chinese religion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-392
Number of pages10
JournalReligion
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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