PULLING UP SPROUTS TO MAKE THEM GROW: MIDWIVES AND SOCIETY IN MING DYNASTY CHINA
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis thesis examines the impact of Ming dynasty China’s social structures on midwives' lives and legacies. Gender-based ideologies limited women's social spheres and influenced medical understandings of the female body, which contributed to midwives' negative social standing during the Ming dynasty. Midwives' reputations reflected the prevailing ideas of proper femininity, and their techniques gave female patients greater agency. Due to the scarcity of literature sourced directly from the midwives of Ming dynasty China, their lives and work were investigated through the literary impressions of their peers and the social structures they occupied. Using primary and secondary peer-reviewed resources, this thesis examines midwives' medical techniques, literary critiques, and artistic depictions of their social positioning through a lens of modern and feminist history. By expanding upon the social constructs found within these sources, it becomes possible to understand the influence of Ming dynasty ideologies on gender, medicine, and midwifery. Ultimately, this era of history reflects to modern positionings of gender and medicine.
Degree ProgramEast Asian Studies