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Topics: History of education, Hong Kong, Madrasah Pages: 32 (9624 words) Published: December 5, 2013
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History of Education

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'A position of usefulness': gendering history of girls' education in colonial Hong Kong (1850s-1890s)
Patricia Pok-kwan Chiu a
University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, Cambridge, UK

To cite this Article Chiu, Patricia Pok-kwan(2008) ''A position of usefulness': gendering history of girls' education in

colonial Hong Kong (1850s-1890s)', History of Education, 37: 6, 789 — 805 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/00467600802368715
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00467600802368715

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History of Education
Vol. 37, No. 6, November 2008, 789–805

‘A position of usefulness’: gendering history of girls’ education in colonial Hong Kong (1850s–1890s)
Patricia Pok-kwan Chiu*
University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, Cambridge, UK

Downloaded By: [HEAL-Link Consortium] At: 12:38 12 February 2010

00 PatriciaChiu
0046-760X Francis
10.1080/00467600802368715 (online)
Taylor andEducation

Girls’ education has been considered a site of struggle where ideals of femininity and domesticity are translated into curricula and practices that seek to shape and regulate. In colonial Hong Kong, British mission societies had a significant share in providing girls’ education, which was predominantly in the hands of European missionaries in the nineteenth century. The dual mission of evangelising and civilising colonial subjects in the Victorian era of empire expansion constituted a pertinent focus of inquiry in the writing of history of girls’ education. Drawing on selected texts on missionary literature and government reports, this article examines in what ways a domestic ideology framed within evangelical beliefs and the imperial gaze interplayed with the politics of race and class in shaping girls’ education. It challenges the presumed impartiality in education policies and practices concerning both sexes, and discusses women’s agency in redefining identities and boundaries in a colonial society. Keywords: colonial education; gender; identity; missionary; race …the ‘discovery’ of new materials is actually an interpretive intervention that exposes the terms of inclusion and exclusion in the knowledges of the past. (Women’s history, from this perspective, is not the simple addition of information previously ignored, not an empirical correction of the record, but an analysis of the effects of dominant understandings of gender in the past, a critical reading that itself has the effect of producing another ‘reality.’) 1

On 27 December 1857, a letter by Lydia Smith, wife...
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