Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Kirstin Beattie

MA work

Title of dissertation: Domestic Space: The Social Construction of the Home in Qing Dynasty China, c. 1640–1800


This dissertation investigates the construction of domestic space through analysis of its material culture and social politics in the early to mid-Qing dynasty. The structure of the Chinese house was governed by ideas about proper social relations, which stemmed from Confucian ideology. Texts prescribed a strict ordering of the relationships between those living in the house based on age, status and gender. Thus it was structured in order to facilitate these hierarchical relationships; into inner and outer spheres. Domestic space was navigated through its architectural and symbolic framework, as well as through its material culture. The material fabric of the house — walls, doors, steps, furniture and furnishings — constitute this living environment and signify to humans what the purpose of a particular room or space might be, who it might belong to, and thus how they should behave inside it. My purpose was to try to ascertain how individual identity could have been constructed and maintained through navigation of the space, of its visible and invisible boundaries. Analysis of material culture is used to suggest that domestic spatial boundaries were in fact substantially blurred in day-to-day life within the house. Indeed, changing family relations were experienced and performed within a space that was itself constantly changing.


Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2011

  • Title of dissertation: Domestic Space: The Social Construction of the Home in Qing Dynasty China, c. 1640–1800


    This dissertation investigates the construction of domestic space through analysis of its material culture and social politics in the early to mid-Qing dynasty. The structure of the Chinese house was governed by ideas about proper social relations, which stemmed from Confucian ideology. Texts prescribed a strict ordering of the relationships between those living in the house based on age, status and gender. Thus it was structured in order to facilitate these hierarchical relationships; into inner and outer spheres. Domestic space was navigated through its architectural and symbolic framework, as well as through its material culture. The material fabric of the house — walls, doors, steps, furniture and furnishings — constitute this living environment and signify to humans what the purpose of a particular room or space might be, who it might belong to, and thus how they should behave inside it. My purpose was to try to ascertain how individual identity could have been constructed and maintained through navigation of the space, of its visible and invisible boundaries. Analysis of material culture is used to suggest that domestic spatial boundaries were in fact substantially blurred in day-to-day life within the house. Indeed, changing family relations were experienced and performed within a space that was itself constantly changing.


  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons), History and History of Art, University of Edinburgh, 2008
  • Experience

  • Internship, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2010-11; Internship, Lyon and Turnbull Auctioneers, Edinburgh, London, 2008-2010; Work experience, Aberdeen Art Gallery, 2009; Office and Administration Support, CLAN Cancer Charity, Aberdeen, 2008-2009
  • Awards

  • Winner, Matthews Wrightson Award, 2011; Winner, Gardiner Travel Award, 2010