Call for papers: Making Gender in China

Third Biennial Conference of the China Academic Network on Gender

Conference title: Making Gender in China: Third Biennial Conference of the China Academic Network on Gender 

Dates: March 29-May 3, 2022. 2hr panels will be held weekly as a virtual conference series on Tuesdays, Toronto time (EST, UTC-5).  

Location: York University, Toronto (online)

Deadline for Abstracts (250 words) – 7 January 2022 
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We are pleased to announce that the Third Biennial Conference of the China Academic Network on Gender (CHANGE) will be hosted virtually by York University, Toronto. 

The theme of the conference will be ‘Making Gender in China.’ We seek to explore how gender is enacted, negotiated, and disrupted through objects and in the process of making them. How does scrutinizing things (a poem, a cookbook, a translation, a sword, a piece of furniture, noodles, an online protest, or a piece of legislation) help inform and reshape our understanding of gender in China itself? Indeed, material culture and gender studies share a reciprocal methodological outlook on the construction of societal norms. They ask not only how objects – or gender – are being shaped by society, but also how the material world – or gender – in turn shape society itself. Within Chinese studies, fruitful articulations between material culture and gender studies have first focused on areas such as dress, spinning, weaving (Bray, 1997; Ko, 2005). Recent work has expanded into the realm of literati’s writing apparatus, dictionaries and other domestic objects such as furniture, drawing our attention to the importance of interrogating the materiality of the everyday (Ko, 2017; Althenger and Ho, forthcoming). This workshop invites scholars to explore further how gendered divisions of labour or gender roles inform and shape the social lives of objects and vice-versa. If we take gender as a site of social construction, one that is “made,” what do we see when we turn to literal sites where construction takes place: shipyards, factory-floors, theatres, media broadcasting houses, the scholars’ study or the inner quarters? What symbolic and practical social roles do these objects then play in the creation of gender dynamics of daily life? How can they in turn be subverted or redirected from the intention of the maker in the uses to which they are put?

The conference aims to bring together scholars (including doctoral, postdoctoral, early, mid and advanced career researchers) from the humanities and social sciences working on gender and China. We seek proposals that articulate issues of gender in relation to material culture, or dealing more broadly with gender in relation to the physicality of objects, their use and making. We welcome applications from a broad range of disciplines including but not limited to: gender studies, media studies, cultural studies, film studies, literature, history, sociology, anthropology, queer studies. We particularly encourage papers in the following subject areas:

      • Socialization and the construction of gendered identities through material culture: children’s textbooks, picture books, lianhuanhua, dolls.
      • Spatiality of the city or the house: streets, department stores, factories, space arrangements within the house as testaments to gender roles.
      • Gender, corporeality, dress, and makeup: from everyday life to performance costumes, cosmetics-making, or drag.
      • Gender and foodways: food-making and transmission of recipes (oral storytelling, recipe books), lives of kitchen objects, alcohol-making and consumption.
      • Gender and waste: thrift shops, recycling facilities, waste collection, various calls to “purity.”
      • Gender in the history of technology: handicraft, tools, weapons, machines and robots.
      • Digital materiality: data, computer code, digital humanities approaches to gender.
      • Gendered lives of objects in literature and metaphorical associations between objects and gender.
      • Visual production of gendered stereotypes: portraiture, political cartoons, photography.
      • Gender in the materiality of the archive: ribbons, ink stains, flowers, and their backstories, alternative material sources.
      • Gender on display: museumification and art collections, and curating.

During the workshop participants will be encouraged to frame their own work in discussion with other researchers’ papers. They will also have the chance to gain feedback on their research from leading scholars in the field who will act as discussants in each panel session. Participants will have the opportunity to enjoy informal (virtual) coffee sessions for members of the network to meet new people working in the field. Outstanding papers will be selected for publication in an edited volume.

Participating scholars

The opening keynote speaker, Prof. Joan Judge (University of York), is a cultural historian of modern China with a scholarly focus on print culture and women’s history at the turn of the twentieth century. She will deliver the opening keynote speech on her book project entitled ‘China’s Mundane Revolution: Vernacularizing Science and Scientizing the Vernacular in the Long Republic,’ exploring the production of everyday knowledge that shaped modern China.

The closing keynote speaker, Professor Wang Zheng (University of Michigan) will share her latest research on gender in practice.  Her latest book, (Finding Women in the State, 2016) focuses on the struggles of PRC feminists to carve out their own spaces within the state after the 1949 revolution.


Please send a 250-word abstract to, including your full name, institutional affiliation, email address, and a short biography before 7 January 2022. Scholars whose papers have been selected for the conference will be notified by early February 2022, and successful applicants will need to submit a paper two weeks prior to their session (29 March-3 May 2022). 


– Deadline for abstract: 7 January 2022

– Notification of acceptance: early February 2022

– Deadline for full submission: two weeks prior to session date (29 March-3 May 2022) 


The conference will be held online weekly in March-May 2022 on Tuesdays: 29th March, 5th April, 12th April, 19th April, 26th April, 3rd May. Each 2-hr online session will be held on Toronto Time (EST, UTC-5), between 8am-8pm. Exact timings will be decided with consideration being given to the location of the panelists, discussants and chairs for each session. To help replicate the close-knit atmosphere of a regular conference, we are also planning to have “coffee break” private discussion sessions for presenters to chat and get to know one another.


China Academic Network on Gender & University of York

Committee: Chris Vogel (University of York), Jennifer Bond (University College Dublin), Chang Liu (CUHK Shenzhen), Coraline Jortay (University of Oxford).


This online conference series is sponsored by a grant from the Canada-China Initiatives Fund (CCIF).

This is the third in a series of CHANGE biennial conferences, postponed from 2021 to 2022 in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous conferences were held in February 2019 in Brussels, and February 2017 in London. 

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