Laurel Bossen

Professor Emerita

Ph.D (Anthropology) State University of New York Albany, 1978
M.A. (Anthropology) State University of New York Albany, 1972
B.A. (History) Columbia University, 1968

Laurel Bossen

laurel.bossen [at] (Email)






Research Interests

Gender and development in rural China, households and property rights, sex ratio imbalance, transformations in early 20th-century female labour in rural China.

My research in China and Central America examines the relationship between gender and development in different social, economic, and political environments and aims to understand the conditions that shape gender relations.My earlier work in Guatemala compared gender relations at the household and community level in two rural villages and two urban settings governed by state with a dismal record of military repression of its indigenous Maya populations and the poor. In China, my current research examines the legacy of Communist policies and economic reforms on rural communities. I focus on contemporary gender and social differences in the context of regional environments andculture history. The institutions affecting gender in property rights, employment, violence, and reproductive choice are among my major concerns.


Representative Publications

Commentary on death of Fei Xiaotong, quoted in “Fei Xiaotong’s Life: China’ s True Story”, China Daily, April 2005.

Forty million missing girls: land, population policies, and sex imbalance in rural China. Japan Focus, Oct. 7, 2005.

Review: The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Chinese Women in the Sung Period, by Patricia Ebrey Buckley. Zhongguo Xueshu (China Scholarship), v. 5, no. 2, 2005, pp. 314-317.

New directions for Maya labor: Guatemala and beyond. Latin American Perspectives, v. 32, 2005, pp. 118-127.

Review: Other Modernites: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism, by Lisa Rofel. Zhongguo Xuehue (China Scholarship), v. 5, no. 2, 2005, pp. 314-317.

Zongguo funu yu nongcun fazhan – Yunnan Lacun liushi nian de bianqian (translation of Chinese Women and Rural Development: Sixty Years of Change in Lu Village), by Yukun Hu, Nanjing, China, Jiangsu Peoples’ Publishing House, 2005, pp. 470.


Zhongguo funu yu nongcun fazhan – Yunnan Lucun liushi nian de bianqian. Translation of Chinese Women and Rural Development.  Translated by Yukun Hu. Nanjing: Jiangsu Peoples’ Publishing House, 2005.

Chinese Women and Rural Development: 60 Years of Change in Lu Village, Yunnan.  Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

La herencia de la conquista:  Treinta anos despues.  Translation of Heritage of Conquest. Translated by Mariluz Caso.  Mexico:  Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1986

The Redivision of Labor:  Women and Economic Choice in Four Guatemalan Communities.  Albany:  State University of New York Press, 1984.

Heritage of Conquest: Thirty Years Later. Carl Kendall, John Hawkins and Laurel Bossen, Eds. University of New Mexico Press, 1983.

Articles and Book Chapters:

“Hand und Fuß gebunden: Frauenarbeit und das Binden der Füße im China des frühen 20. Jahrhunderts.” [Bound Hand and Foot: Women’s Work and Footbinding in Early Twentieth Century China]. Translator Mareile Flitsch. Technikgeschichte (History of Technology), Bd 75, pp. 117-140,  2008.

"Women and Development" revised and updated for third edition of Understanding Contemporary China.  Robert Gamer, ed.  Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Pp. 309-338. 2008.

“Missing Girls, Land and Population Controls in Rural China.” In Isabelle Attané and Christophe Guilmoto, eds. Watering the Neighbour’s Garden: The Growing Demographic Female Deficit in Asia.” CICRED, Committee for International Cooperation in National Research in Demography (Paris), Pp. 207-228, 2007.

“Village to Distant Village: The Opportunities and Risks of Long Distance Marriage Migration in Rural China.” Journal of Contemporary China, 16(50): Pp. 97-116.  2007.
“Land and Population Controls in Rural China”  Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology. 30(3): 421-449, 2006.

Land and Population Policies and the Sex Imbalance in Rural China.” Minpaku Anthropology Newsletter of the National Museum of Ethnology Osaka, Japan. No. 20: pp. 1-3, 2005.  “New Directions for Maya Labor: Guatemala and Beyond”  Latin American Perspectives. Vol. 32, pp. 118-127. 2005.

Forty Million Missing Girls: Land, Population Policies, and Sex Imbalance in Rural China. Japan Focus. Oct. 7, 2005. Also posted on China Digital Times.

"Women and Development" revised for second edition of Understanding Contemporary China.  Robert Gamer, ed.  Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Pp. 309-338. 2003.

Gender Perspectives: Women and Economic Development." In Cultural Anthropology:  First Canadian Edition.  William A. Haviland, Gary Crawford, and Shirley Fedorak. Scarborough, Ontario: Thomson Nelson.  Pp. 228-230. 2002.

"Women Farmers, Small Plots and Changing Markets in China."  Women Farmers and Commercial Ventures: Increasing Food Security in Developing Countries. Anita Spring, ed. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Pp. 171-191. 2000.

Women and Development.  In Understanding Contemporary China. Robert Gamer, ed.  Boulder:  Lynne Rienner Publishers.  Pp. 293-320. 1999.

All Words and No Deeds.  Centre for Society, Technology and Development Working Papers, Series on Gender and Property, McGill University. 1995.

Unmaking the Chinese Peasantry--Releasing Collected Energy?  Anthropology of Work Review.  16(3&4):8-14. 1995

Zhongguo nongcun funu:  shenma yuanyin shi tamen liu zai nong tian li?  [Chinese Rural Women:  What Keeps Them Down on the Farm?] Xingbie yu Zhongguo [Gender and China].  Li Xiaojiang, Zhu Hong and Dong Xiuyu, eds.  Beijing:  SDX Joint Publishing Company [Shenghuo- Dushu-Xinhe Sanlian Shudian].  Pp. 128-154. 1994.

Gender and Economic Reform in Southwest China.  Femmes, feminisme, et developpement/Women, Feminism and Development.  Huguette Dagenais and Denise Piché, eds.  Montréal:  McGill-Queens University Press.  Pp. 223-240. 1994.

The Household Economy in Rural China: Is the Involution Over? Anthropology and Institutional Economics, James Acheson, editor.  University Press of America, Monographs in Economic Anthropology, No. 12.  Pp. 167-191. 1994.

Secular Saints:  The Making of Women Heroes in Latin America.  In New Research:  Latin American Women's Studies, edited by Sylvia Arrom et al.  Indiana University: Women's Studies Program.  Occasional Papers Series Number 5, pp. 23-43. 1991.

Nongcun funu yu Zhongguo fazhan de wei zhishu [Rural Women in Chinese Development:  Facing the Unknown].  In Funu yanjiu zai Zhongguo [Research on Women in China].  Editor:  Li Xiaojiang.  Henan Peoples' Press.  Pp. 245-265. 1991.

Las mujeres y las instituciones económicas [Women and Economic Institutions].  In Stuart Plattner, ed. Antropología Económica.  Translated by Enrique Mercado.  Mexico:  Alianza Editorial.  Pp. 432-475.  1991.

Changing Land Tenure Systems in China:  Common Problem, Uncommon Solution.  Sociological Bulletin:  Journal of the Indian Sociological Society, 40 (1 & 2):  pp. 47-67. 1991.

Funu zai Yunnan nongcun jingji fazhan zhong de zuoyong de chubei yanjiu.  [A Preliminary Report on Women's Roles in Rural Economic development in Yunnan].  Jingji Wenti Tansuo [Inquiry into Economic Problems (Monthly)], 4:61-64.  1989.

Women and Economic Institutions.  Economic Anthropology, Stuart Plattner, ed.  Stanford University Press.  Pp. 318-350. 1989.

Toward a Theory of Marriage:  The Economic Anthropology of Marriage Transactions.  Ethnology 27(2) April. Pp. 127-144. 1988.

Huipiles, Tzutes, and Molas.  Context and Coincidence in Central American Textiles.  Caribbean Review 13(4):31-33. 1984.

The Household as Economic Agent.  Urban Anthropology:  Special Issue:  Mexican Urban Household Economies, ed. by Jack Rollwagen, 10(3):287-303. 1983.

Sexual Stratification in Mesoamerica.  In Heritage of Conquest:  Thirty Years Later, pp. 35-72.  Translation:  La estratificación por sexos en Mesoamerica.  In La herencia de la conquista:  Treinta años despues, C. Kendall, J. Hawkings, and L. Bossen, ed. pp. 52-88. 1983.

Plantations and Labor Force Discrimination in Guatemala.  Revised for Current AnthropologySpecial Issue XLIII Congress of Americanists Prize Papers, 23(3): 263-268. 1981.

Wives and Servants:  Women in Middle Class Households, Guatemala City.  In Urban Life:  Readings in Anthropology.  George Gmelch and Walter Zenner, Eds.  NY:  St. Martin's Press.  Pp. 190-200. 1980. Second Edition, Prospect Heights, Ill:  Waveland Press, 1st, 2nd, 3rd editions, 1980, 1988, 1996.

Plantations and Labor Force Discrimination in Guatemala.  Peasant Studies 8(3):31-44. 1979.

Household Work Patterns in an Urban Shantytown in Guatemala.  Western Canadian Journal of Anthropology 6(3): 270-276. 1976.

Women in Modernizing Societies.  American Ethnologist 2(4):  587-601. 1975.  Reprinted in Women and SocietyAn Anthropological Reader.  Sharon Tiffany, Ed.  Montreal: Eden Press, 1979.  Pp. 93-119. 1975.

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