History Department
History Department

Jing Zhai

MA History, Nankai University, Tianjin, China

PhD Candidate
Jing Zhai



History of Modern and Contemporary China, Comparative Communism, History of Gender and Sexuality, History of Childhood


Jing Zhai is a PhD candidate in the history department at UT Austin, where she also serves as the 2018-2019 co-coordinator for Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality. Her research focuses on the provincialization of socialist culture in China from a grassroots perspective. Zhai’s dissertation Experiencing the Commune: Everyday Life in Rural China under Socialism (1956-1984)investigates the constant effort from the Chinese Communist Party to transform meaningless daily affairs into meaningful public agendas. Zhai maintains that everyday experiences became a cord tying individual peasants dispersed in different communes directly to high politics and abstract communist ideology, transforming the least politicized region into a hyperpolitical entity. Her work “Childhood under Collectivism: A Study of Rural Kindergartens during the Great Leap Forward Period,” was recently published in Journal of Chinese Women’s Studies (March 2017, No. 140), a leading academic journal on women’s studies in China. It is the first serious effort to systematically examine the history of kindergarten education in rural China during the Maoist era.


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