The North China Famine of 1876-9: An Asymmetric, Gendered Experience


  • Aodamar Owens Deane University College Dublin


17th Century Chinese History, Famine Studies, Gender, Irish Famine, China Famine Relief Fund, Material History, Imperial History, 1878 North China Famine, Confucianism


Inspired by a joint interest in famine studies and gender historiography, this paper looks to analyse the use of gendered imagery and narratives in inspiring local, regional, national, and international aid to the North Chi- na Famine of 1876-9. First, the paper discusses the experiences of Chinese women during the disaster. From this point, it interrogates different actors’ responses to these women’s predicaments, from the local to the international. In the case of international actors, the pa- per takes a note of the Irish perspective on the famine, one cloaked, as with many other western countries in the late 19th century, in Christian doctrine, racism and imperialism. The Irish view of China in this period is under-researched, and this paper hopes to provide a good addition to both work in comparative famine studies between the two countries, and more broadly to Chinese–Irish late imperial relations.


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