Organized Panel Session
The pull of patriarchy was strong in premodern East Asian court societies, and yet daughters played indispensible roles in supporting family honor and prosperity, providing both political and cultural capital. This panel examines how Chinese, Japanese, and Korean royal and aristocratic women served the interests of their families, successfully negotiating existing gender norms, regulations, and power relations during the twelfth through eighteenth centuries. Specifically Akemi Banse challenges the widespread assumption of unfree servants across premodern East Asia, arguing that attendants at twelfth-, thirteenth-, and fourteenth- century royal courts in Japan were free to come and go from court and that their service could improve their families’ reputation and their own life opportunities. Sachiko Kawai examines how protocols for birth rituals that welcomed royal and aristocratic children into the world affirmed and subverted socio-cultural expectations and gender roles in Heian and Kamakura Japan (794-1333). Jiyoung Kim demonstrates how marriage rituals for a king’s daughter in seventeenth-century Korea did not confirm to Confucian gender norms but rather highlighted her status and roles as a member of the royal family. Liping Mao reveals how changing marital and funeral ritual practices for Qing-dynasty (1644-1911) princesses reflected increasing political tension between their Mongolian husbands’ families and the royal court in the era of Qing political consolidation. A key objective of this panel is to stimulate comparative thinking about the tension between prescriptive rules and dynamically changing social conditions in the spheres of gender and power negotiations in East Asia.