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Women, Pets and Imperialism: The British Pekingese Dog and Nostalgia for Old China

Cheang, Sarah (2006) Women, Pets and Imperialism: The British Pekingese Dog and Nostalgia for Old China. Journal of British Studies, 45 (2). pp. 359-387. ISSN 00219371

Type of Research: Article
Creators: Cheang, Sarah

Pekingese dogs are said to have originated in the Imperial courts of China many centuries ago. This article is a unique study of the growth in popularity of Pekingese dogs in Britain in the early-twentieth century, in terms of class, race, gender and imperialist subjectivities.

Existing studies of human relationships with the animal kingdom and of pedigree dog breeding have established the cultural importance of this area (Ritvo 1987; Derry 2003), however, there has been no work on the colonial aspects of fashionable canine breeding, and no attention has been paid to Sino-British contexts.

My article showcases new research into the history of Pekingese dog breeding in Britain, using primary evidence from contemporary magazines, from canine literature, and from the records of the Kennel Club. The article identifies the concept of colonial nostalgia as crucial to both the peke’s mythology and the formation of British upper-class subjectivities, and is the first piece of work to explore how women were able to respond to an Orientalist discourse that was centred around nostalgia and colonial warfare in China. The article also considers the role of the Chinese mandarin as a figure of authority for Pekingese dog breeders.

Official Website: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/499792
Additional Information (Publicly available):

Sarah Cheang's work focuses on cultural exchange between East and West, with a special interest in Chinese material culture and the articulation of gender. My current research centres on two projects, both of which enable me to explore histories of cross-cultural identity, fashion and material culture. The first examines twentieth-century fashions for Chinese things in the West, from garments and hairstyles to wallpapers and Pekingese dogs. The second concerns cultural identity, fashion and corporeality, in a study of ethnic identity, dress and concepts of fashion.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Research Centres No Longer Active > Fashion, The Body And Material Cultures Research Centre (FBMC)
Date: 1 April 2006
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1086/499792
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2009 16:30
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2014 10:54
Item ID: 1733
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1733

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