The Paradigm of Hakka Women in History
Hakka studies rely strongly on history and historiography. However, despite the fact that in rural Hakka communities women play a central role, in the main historical sources women are almost absent. They do not appear in genealogy books, if not for their being mothers or wives, although they do appear in some legends, as founders of villages or heroines who distinguished themselves in defending the villages in the absence of men. They appear in modern Hakka historiography—Hakka historiography is a very recent discipline, beginning at the end of the 19th century—for their moral value, not only for adhering to Confucian traditional values, but also for their endorsement of specifically Hakka cultural values. In this paper we will analyse the cultural paradigm that allows women to become part of Hakka history. We will show how ethical values are reflected in Hakka historiography through the reading of the earliest Hakka historians as they depicted Hakka women. Grounded on these sources, we will see how the narration of women in Hakka history has developed until the present day.
In doing so, it is necessary to deal with some relevant historical features in the construction of Hakka group awareness, namely migration, education, and women narratives, as a pivotal foundation of Hakka collective social and individual consciousness.
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