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The Representation of Rural Migrant Women and the Discourses of Modernity in Contemporary China——A Study of Zhang Kangkang’s Novel Zhima

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image of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Contemporary Chinese female writer Zhang Kangkang’s novel Zhima uses the lives of rural migrant women to symbolize the experience of the individual in Chinese urban modernity. The novel exposes the gender and class discrimination suffered by the rural migrant woman Zhima, but it does not fully unmask or probe the deeply institutionalized imbrications between gender, class and power in both rural and urban society. The challenge posed to the hierarchical distinction between rural/urban in this text’s narrative ultimately gives way to the discourses on suzhi (quality) and “population control” that actually reinforce the rural/urban differences. The author’s self-proclaimed feminist standpoint is also overshadowed by the text’s complicity with developmentalist modern urban values. This literary text thus affirms, rather than calling into question, the post-socialist discourses of modernity, which are distinguished by their promotion and celebration of urbanization and free market.


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