Working and Mothering in Asia

Images, Ideologies and Identities

edited by Theresa W. Devasahayam & Brenda S.A. Yeoh

274 pp.,
Gendering Asia # 1
Available from NIAS Press in Europe

Paperback - 2007, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 013 3, £16.99

Large numbers of women in Asia are engaged in paid work - often outside the home - in response to the need to secure a livelihood for the family, or a desire, in the case of educated women, to develop rewarding careers. Many of these women also continue to shoulder home and family responsibilities that social and cultural norms define as their primary concern. In an effort to balance the conflicting demands of these roles, women in various Asian societies are negotiating, contesting and reconfiguring motherhood. Their experiences provide an important counterpoint to the lives white middle-class North Americans, the focus of much of the previous research relating to this subject.

The authors approach the subject from various academic disciplines - anthropology, sociology, gender studies, demography and law - but their writings identify a number of common themes, including patriarchy, labor and relationships, strategies of accommodation, conflict and emotion management, the role of fathers, socio-cultural definitions of ’good mothering’, and the political meanings of ’maternity’ and ’family’. The result is a substantial contribution to studies of Asian societies and to comparative research on gender.

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