Laurel Bossen is a professor emerita in anthropology at McGill University. She is interested in the comparative study of gender, labor, and development. Her early research compared women and work in various ethnic, rural, urban, and class-based communities of Guatemala. Since the 1980s, Bossen has concentrated on changes in gender relations in rural China under varying political and economic conditions.
At Radcliffe, Bossen will collaborate with Melissa J. Brown and Hill Gates to complete a book on female labor and footbinding in early 20th-century China. This book—which will examine the labor contributions of rural Chinese women when modern industry, transportation, and trade undermined commercial production by women in rural households—will draw on interviews with thousands of elderly rural women in more than 10 Chinese provinces where the patterns of female labor and footbinding have been little studied.
Bossen received her BA from Columbia University and her MA and PhD from State University of New York at Albany. The winner of awards from the National Science Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, she has been a Canada Research Fellow and a visiting professor at the National Museum of Ethnology in Japan and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Bossen’s recent publications include the book Chinese Women and Rural Development: Sixty Years of Change in Lu Village, Yunnan (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002) and the coauthored article “Feet and Fabrication: Footbinding and Early Twentieth-Century Rural Women’s Labor in Shaanxi” (Modern China, 2011).