From the Lab to the Lotus Pond: Interactions between Orientalism and Ideals of Domestic Science

Nancy Mason


At a time when America had only just begun its journey away from the discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Acts of the 1880s and toward its eventual alliance with China during World War II, a group of home economists from Oregon began to contemplate sending one of their own to China. Ava B. Milam, head of the Department of Home Economics at the University of Oregon, left for Yenching University in 1922 to design a home economics program uniquely tailored to Chinese culture. In the 1920s, ideas of western superiority flourished, and work in China was largely considered as valuable in reflecting the promise of American society.

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