Rita S. Gallin
DOWRY AND FAMILY IN CHANGING RURAL TAIWAN
Rita S. Gallin(Michigan State University)
Most students of China ignore women’s property when they explain intra-family relations and family division. This paper argues that the omission of women’s property from discussions of family partition reflects the narrow view of what constitutes a socially ‘valued resource and that property has both a material and non-material form. To direct attention to the dual nature of property, the paper examines the relevance of a woman’s dowry—defined as both the tangible objects and intangible resources (e.g., knowledge, skills, or traits) with which a woman is endowed and which she takes to her marriage—to family division and the assets of the independent units established. Using ethnographic data collected in one rural community at two point in time, it shows how an expanded definition of women’s property can reveal many of the subtleties of family life heretofore not usually considered.
China, Intra-family relations. Property, Dowry, Family division