The Hard Work of Feeding the Baby: Breastfeeding and Intensive Mothering in Contemporary Urban China


 In this talk, I describe an emerging culture of intensive mothering among middle-class, urban Chinese women that focuses on infant feeding. Based upon interviews with new mothers in urban Shanghai, I describe the intense efforts and commitment by these women to provide their babies with breast milk, and I describe the complexities of their attempts to put mothering ideals into practice. I suggest that the linkage between breastfeeding and motherhood represents a “gendered burden” for Chinese women and that infant feeding has become important, early terrain on which new mothers grapple with their own and others’ expectations about mothering and caring for a child.

About the Speaker

Amy Hanser is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia.  Her research has focused upon numerous aspects of contemporary Chinese society, such as gender and employment, social inequality, and consumption and consumerism, and include Service Encounters: Class, Gender and the Market for Social Distinction in Urban China (Stanford, 2008).


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This event is sponsored by the UBC Centre for Chinese Research.