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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Keeping the Nation’s House

Domestic Management and the Making of Modern China

The term home economics often conjures images of sterile classrooms where girls learn to cook dinner and swaddle dolls, far removed from the seats of power. Helen Schneider unsettles this assumption by revealing how Chinese women helped to build a nation, one family at a time. From the 1920s to the early 1950s, home economists transformed the most fundamental of political spaces – the home – by teaching women to nurture ideal families and manage projects of social reform. Although their discipline came undone after 1949, it created a legacy of gendered professionalism and reinforced the idea that leaders should shape domestic rituals of the people.

336 pages

Table of Contents


1   The Ideology of the Happy Family, 1915-48 

2   Gendered Responsibilities: Debates over Female Education in the Republican Period 

3   Domestic Discipline: The Development of Home Economics Curricula 

4   A Discipline of Their Own: Home Economists in Institutions of Higher Learning 

5   Experimenting with the Family: Family Education Experimental Zones in the 1940s 

6   Cleaning House: The Last Decade of a Gendered Discipline 

7   The Post-1949 Politics of Home Economics: Stories of Professional Evolution 



Glossary of Chinese Terms, Institutions, and Names 



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