Project Description


Professor Ko’s research interest is the everyday lives of women in China –along with the domestic objects they made by hand–as a significant part of country’s cultural, economic and political development. She works at the intersections of anthropology, history, and women’s studies.

Ko’s recent book, Cinderella Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding, published in 2005, shattered the popular conception of footbinding as a tool to oppress women and demonstrated that it was instead a source of female identity, purpose, pride, and power. It won the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize of the American Historical Association, Recently, she has been turning her attention to the skills of women’s artisans such as embroiderers, stone carvers, and ceramic artists. Her research during spring semester, 2004, as a senior fellow at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s Institute for International Research in Nanjing, focused on the importance of ancient art of silk-weaving for a study of the dress-making tradition and domestic work culture in China’s silk industry region. More recently, as a fellow at the Needham Research Institute in Cambridge, England, in spring 2007, she researched ancient swordsmith legends for insights into the relations between bodily investments and transformation of matter.

In addition to Cinderella’s Sisters, Ko has written numerous books and publications, including “Between the Boudoir and the Global Market: Shen Shou, Embroidery and Modernity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” in Looking Modern (forthcoming), Every Step a Lotus (2001), and Teachers of the Inner Chambers (1994). She is also co-editor of Women and Confucian Cultures in Pre-modern China, Korea, and Japan.

Ko’s courses include Chinese cultural history, body histories, women and culture in 17th century China, and Confucian cultures.

Ko earned undergraduate and advanced degrees at Stanford University, including the doctorate. She has received a number of fellowships and awards. She was a member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study (2000-2001), a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2000-2001) and a fellow at the Center for Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture, Rutgers University (1999-2000). Before joining the Barnard faculty in 2001, Professor Ko taught at Rutgers University.

Office: 416D Lehman BC
Office Hours: R 12:30-2:30, (The last Thursday of month, office hours are R 11:00-12:00.)
Teaching Hours: T 4:10-6:00, TR 2:40-3:55
Phone: (212) 854-9624