On the Pseudo-Recognition of Female Commanders in Medieval China: War, Gender, and Imperial Rhetoric

48 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2021

Date Written: May 3, 2021

Abstract

During medieval China (ca. 200–900 CE), a number of women commanded armies on their own. As a result, the regional or imperial courts turned to negotiate with them, rewarding them with titles and beyond while seeking to gain their loyalty or support. Using a variety of previously untapped edicts promoting these female commanders—including collections surviving in Korea and archival materials from the imperial chancellery, this paper broaches the much-overlooked question: How did the Chinese patriarchal regime reproduce itself when the regime itself had to work with female leaders? I contend that historical Chinese courts developed discursive, cultural, and philosophical tools to orchestrate partial—and indeed, pseudo—recognition of their heroines in war, and in this way, neutralized the concomitant challenges to the gender status quo. As a case study focusing on medieval China, the paper's broader aim is to provide a reference of comparison for further studies of pseudo recognitions of women that had happened or are still happening in different regions.

Suggested Citation

Yin, Shoufu, On the Pseudo-Recognition of Female Commanders in Medieval China: War, Gender, and Imperial Rhetoric (May 3, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3913347 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3913347

Shoufu Yin (Contact Author)

Department of History ( email )

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