Sara Friedman

Sara Friedman

Professor, Gender Studies

Professor, Anthropology


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, Cornell University, 2000
  • M.A., Anthropology, Cornell University
  • B.A., East Asian Studies, Yale University

About Sara Friedman

Professor Friedman's research focuses on the relationship between political processes and intimate life in China and Taiwan. Her first book, Intimate Politics: Marriage, the Market, and State Power in Southeastern China (Harvard University Press, 2006), looked at how China's socialist regime sought to produce new socialist citizens through transforming intimate practices associated with marriage, labor, bodily adornment, and same-sex networks. She then went on to study how cross-cultural analyses of intimacy and sexuality challenge norms rooted in Euro-American cultures. Through an analysis of transnational film circuits, she asked whether same-sex intimacy is always perceived as sexual or whether more varied frameworks exist cross-culturally for interpreting and experiencing intimacy outside of sexual identity.

Exceptional States Professor Friedman has recently completed a project that studied new configurations of marriage, immigration, and sovereignty emerging in an increasingly mobile Asia. Her book, Exceptional States: Chinese Immigrants and Taiwanese Sovereignty (University of California Press, 2015), examines marital immigration from China to Taiwan and documents powerful parallels between the struggles of Chinese immigrant spouses and the uncertain future of the Taiwan nation-state. The book calls attention to a group of immigrants whose exceptional status has become necessary to Taiwan's national integrity, using rich ethnography to reveal the social, political, and personal consequences of living on the margins of citizenship and sovereignty.

Selected publications

Exceptional States: Chinese Immigrants and Taiwanese Sovereignty. University of California Press, 2015.

Migrant Encounters: Intimate Labor, the State, and Mobility across Asia. Co-edited with Pardis Mahdavi. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.

Wives, Husbands, and Lovers: Marriage and Sexuality in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Urban China. Co-edited with Deborah Davis. Stanford University Press, 2014.

"Mobilizing Gender in Cross-Strait Marriages: Patrilineal Tensions, Care Work Expectations, and a Dependency Model of Marital Immigration. In Wen-hsin Yeh, ed. Mobile Horizons: Dynamics across the Taiwan Strait. Pp. 147-177. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies Publications Series, University of California-Berkeley, 2013.

"Another Kind of Love? Debating Homosexuality and Same-Sex Intimacy Through Taiwanese and Chinese Film Reception. In Media, Erotics, and Transnational Asia, eds. Purnima Mankekar and Louisa Schein. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.

"Adjudicating the Intersection of Marital Immigration, Domestic Violence, and Spousal Murder: China-Taiwan Marriages and Competing Legal Domains." Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 19:1 (Winter 2012), pp. 221-255.

Intimate Politics: Marriage, the Market, and State Power in Southeastern China. Harvard East Asian Monographs 265, Harvard University Press, 2006.

Courses taught

GNDR G215: Cross-Cultural Gender Formations

GNDR G402/601: Engendering Asia's Economic Miracles: Rethinking Gender, Labor, and Globalization

G603: Contemporary Debates in Feminist Theory