PhD Scholarship "Slave-girls and the Discovery of Female Childhood in Twentieth-century China" (Trinity College Dublin)

Trinity College Dublin
03.09.2018 - 31.08.2022
Isabella Jackson

PhD Scholarship for CHINACHILD: Slave-girls and the Discovery of Female Childhood in Twentieth-century China

A PhD Scholarship is available for a student to work on the Irish Research Council Laureate Award-funded CHINACHILD project in the Department of History, Trinity College Dublin, under the supervision of Dr Isabella Jackson, beginning in September 2018 (or, exceptionally, March 2019).

For much of Chinese history, childhood as a period of education and development when young people should be nurtured and their innocence protected was a category that was applied almost exclusively to elites and boys. Elite girls and poorer boys might access education and some of the other characteristics of childhood, but poor girls were not included. Instead they were treated as small women, often sold in the same way that women could be sold by their families as wives, concubines, or mui tsai/binü, and when they were protected under law or as potential victims of abuse, they were categorised with adult women.
This is the picture that emerges from the current, quite limited, historiography of Chinese childhood, which focuses on the education of elite boys (Saari 1990; Wang 2013) and examines girls only through the prism of women (Kinney 2004, 120-31). CHINACHILD will address how public and official discourse about girls changed between approx. 1919 and 1959 to include the poor and girls in a universal conception of childhood. Dr Jackson’s research as Principal Investigator (PI) will focus on what changing responses to child slavery reveal about conceptions of childhood and girlhood.

The project aims to:
1. Open a new field of enquiry in modern Chinese history that explains the expansion of the category of ‘child’ to include girls of all social classes between 1919 and 1959.
This will dramatically alter the existing landscape of the field of childhood studies, not just in relation to China but highlighting the need for gender to be central to examinations of childhood in all contexts. It will also have ramifications for women’s and gender history and the study of women and gender in contemporary China.
2. Redraw the line between gender and childhood, showing how women and girls developed into separate categories in Chinese society and challenging scholars to take better account of this in their research.

The PhD student will undertake research that contributes to one or both of these aims. It is anticipated that the student will undertake oral history research examining memories of childhood experiences and attitudes towards childhood, but alternative proposals that address the aims of the project are welcome.
€16,000 annual stipend + €5,750 towards fees p.a. for four years.

Academic requirements:
- Excellent English and Chinese language skills.
- Preference will be given to an applicant who has completed or is completing a Master’s degree in History with a good grade, especially if they have training in oral history methodologies.
- Applicants must also meet the general requirements for a PhD at Trinity College Dublin, including a good undergraduate degree in History or a closely related subject. See

How to apply:
Applicants should contact prior to applying. Applications should then be submitted by following the link for Doctor in Philosophy, History (Full Time) under September 2018 entry here:

The following documents are required:
- Two academic references
- A research proposal showing how a student’s research plans meet the project aims (see guidelines:
- Certified academic transcripts for all degrees
- Certified degree certificates for all degrees
- A writing sample (e.g. an academic essay, article, or dissertation chapter)
- For non-native English speakers without a degree from an English-speaking institution, a language qualification is required; the application can be submitted without the certificate, but any offer made will be conditional until the required test results are received

11 June 2018


Isabella Jackson

Department of History, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

PhD Scholarship "Slave-girls and the Discovery of Female Childhood in Twentieth-century China" (Trinity College Dublin), 03.09.2018 – 31.08.2022 Dublin, in: H-Soz-Kult, 18.05.2018, <>.
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