Journal Name: The International Journal of Asian Studies: Volume 1 - Issue 02 - June 2004
Print ISSN: 1479-5914 Online ISSN: 1479-5922
Gender in Asian History
INTRODUCTION TO WOMEN, FAMILY AND INHERITANCE IN CHINA AND JAPAN (pp197-199)
Jack Goody (University of Cambridge)
Both papers in this section are concerned with issues of women's access to property and marriage in the medieval period, McDermott's with China (and in particular the study by Bettine Birge), and Kurushima's with Japan (and more especially with the marriage strategies of a political kind among the élite).
Gender in Asian History Women, Family and Inheritance
WOMEN OF PROPERTY IN CHINA, 960–1368: A SURVEY OF THE SCHOLARSHIP (pp201-222)
Joseph P. McDermott (University of Cambridge)
The issue of women's property rights during the Song dynasty has been heatedly debated for over half a century. First in Japan, and then in China, Taiwan and the West, scholars have developed strikingly divergent views of the legal and social dimensions of Song women's claims to property and control over their remarriage as widows. This article discusses and assesses the different views, particularly those of Bettine Birge in her recent book-length analysis of the topic. In siding largely with earlier studies that stressed Song women's legally backed rights to property as daughters, wives and widows, Birge's work provides the most comprehensive and persuasive treatment of this debate in any language. In addition, she discusses the fate of Chinese widows, accustomed to remarrying under favourable terms in the Song, and then suffering during the Yuan serious restrictions on their options for remarriage as well as on their property rights. The turning point, according to this book, was the merger of Mongol government and neo-Confucian court interests in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century, thereby depriving women of many powers they had acquired in the Song.
MARRIAGE AND FEMALE INHERITANCE IN MEDIEVAL JAPAN (pp223-245)
Noriko Kurushima (University of Tokyo)
This paper discusses the status of women in late medieval Japan through an examination of marriage and inheritance, in particular through the concept of ie (the household as a basic social unit). It casts a fresh view on the relationship between the ie and women, and in the process refutes the assumption of Takamure Itsue that the emergence of the ie prompted an oppressive form of marriage that deprived women of freedom, rights and a claim to property. Taking class distinctions into consideration, the paper reviews the legal, social and economic position of women. It shows that the ie was not an oppressor of women at its inception, but as time passed the independence of the ie was eroded from within and without, and in the process women were gradually excluded from positions of power. The paper also takes a close look at various patterns of marriage in different social classes and at inheritance. Even though primogeniture concentrated the ie property in the hands of the male heir, female inheritance continued well into the sixteenth century. The paper concludes that the position of women in modern Japan has its roots in the late medieval period, and criticizes Takamure for viewing the late medieval ie from a modern perspective.
Gender in Asian History
"ETERNAL FLAMES": SUICIDE, SINFULNESS AND INSANITY IN "WESTERN" CONSTRUCTIONS OF SATI, 1500–1830 (pp247-276)
Andrea Major (University of Edinburgh)
In the wake of the immolation of Roop Kanwar in Deorala, Rajasthan, in 1987, sati has re-emerged as a controversial political and social issue in modern India. Many of the terms of the contemporary debate on sati have their roots in the colonial period and are based on assumptions and ideas formulated during the British debate on sati in the early nineteenth century. These ideas were often as much the product of changing British society and its preoccupations as they were the encounter with India, however. This article explores the connotations of changing attitudes to suicide in influencing the nature of British responses to sati. By examining the relationship between attitudes to suicide and changing depictions of sati between 1500–1830, it seeks to undermine the suggestion of a constant western "morality" with regard to sati, depicting instead an encounter with the rite that was bi-directional and fluid with the dichotomy between "East" and "West" cross-cut by a myriad of other issues and concerns.
QUR'A¯N AND THE VEIL: CONTEXTS AND INTERPRETATIONS OF THE REVELATION (pp277-295)
Emi Goto (University of Tokyo)
Though veiling by Muslim women has been discussed from many angles and with various methodologies, the very basis of the discussion – the relationship between the Qur'a¯n and the veil – still remains unclear. This paper returns to this basis, focusing on three relevant passages from the Qur'a¯n (33:59, 33:53, 24:31). An analysis of the first two of these passages in association with a number of prophetic traditions [hadi¯th] shows clearly that one of the main purposes of veiling in early Islamic society was to distinguish, and secure the safety or status of, privileged women. Problematic is Verse 24:31, which contains another reason for veiling in Islam: to cover women's beauty. Because of the ambiguity of the words contained in this passage, and the absence of any solid hadi¯th concerning it, ample room for interpretation was provided for later religious authorities. The extent of covering changed over time and so did the grounds for argument. By following major exegetic texts [tafsi¯r] on this verse from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries, this paper shows the relationship between the Qur'a¯n, hadi¯th, tafsi¯r, and the veil.
Law, State and Society in China 
WAS TRADITIONAL CHINESE LAW A MERE "MODEL"? PART TWO (pp297-322)
Shigeo Nakamura (Kanazawa University)
Inside and outside China, it has been widely believed that in premodern China common people did not bring civil cases to magistrate's courts but settled them at the level of their clan, village or guild. However, David C. Buxbaum's research based on the Dan-Xin Archive and Shiga Shu¯zo¯'s study of legal memoranda show that people quite regularly turned to the magistrate's court to resolve civil disputes. During the Qing dynasty, legal cases were divided, not in civil or criminal terms, but according to how serious the offence was. The less-serious offences were civil cases that included disputes concerning marriage and inheritance, land and property, money and loans, and minor battery. Whereas the latter category, criminal cases in today's terms, were handled with the intention of maintaining legal stability, magistrates involved with civil cases tried to strike a reasonable balance by examining each case on an individual basis. However, how the law was applied to civil cases remains a subject for future research.
The International Journal of Asian Studies (2004)
Copyright ©2004 Cambridge University Press
(This journal is available online at: http://www.journals.cambridge.org/jid_ASI)
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