Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Rochester

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2004
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Chicago
Engendering Wealth: China`s New Rich and the Rise of an Elite Masculinity

China's economic reforms have given rise to a class of new rich entrepreneurs and professionals, the vast majority of whom are male. While in many ways this class serves as a role model for the rest of society, the extravagant lifestyles and decadent personal lives of new rich men have attracted considerable negative attention. Many Chinese understand their behavior as resulting from a transformation brought by prosperity, a transformation that affects men and women differently. My project will investigate the ways in which urban Chinese conceptualize the relationship between prosperity and gender by examining changing ideologies of masculinity among China's new rich class. I contend that studying transformations in masculinity will shed new light on relations between the Chinese state and private business, changing configurations of romance, marriage and sexuality, the rise of new forms of consumption and leisure, and the reemergence of certain "traditional" cultural practices in China. More generally, tracing the rise of elite masculinity will help account for the ways in which China's economic transformation has led to changes in cultural values. My data will be derived from three sources: participant observation with a group of new rich and their associates, detailed interviews with a select group of informants focusing on transformations in their personal lives, and analysis of popular representations and discussions of the new rich drawn from both contemporary and historical sources.