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Between Birth and Death: Female Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century China. written by Michelle T King, 2014

Between Birth and Death: Female Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century China. written by Michelle T... China’s current stark gender imbalance begs historical investigation into the root causes of female infanticide there. Yet as one delves back into the nation’s past, what one finds are not bodies but outraged voices condemning both the practice and the Chinese nation. Michelle King argues that in late imperial China much of Westerners’ fascination with female infanticide was due to its construction. Female infanticide became a totemic marker of Chinese culture for them (along with judicial torture and foot binding), exposing Chinese barbarity. The reverberations of this persist today in what the author calls “bad history.” Her work is clearly intended to correct these stereotypes and mount a defence against historical criticism by Westerners. This approach frames the main question of the book, when and how did female infanticide become so Chinese? Unlike many other cultural histories, this book adopts a micro rather than macro perspective. 1 Both Chinese and Western representations of female infanticide in late imperial China and their interaction give this volume its structure. King writes that she is painting ever-wider concentric circles of concern around the Chinese infant girl. The first circle encompasses the mentalities and emotions of those present at the birth of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png NAN NÜ Brill

Between Birth and Death: Female Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century China. written by Michelle T King, 2014

NAN NÜ , Volume 17 (2): 349 – Mar 24, 2015

Between Birth and Death: Female Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century China. written by Michelle T King, 2014


China’s current stark gender imbalance begs historical investigation into the root causes of female infanticide there. Yet as one delves back into the nation’s past, what one finds are not bodies but outraged voices condemning both the practice and the Chinese nation. Michelle King argues that in late imperial China much of Westerners’ fascination with female infanticide was due to its construction. Female infanticide became a totemic marker of Chinese culture for them (along with judicial torture and foot binding), exposing Chinese barbarity. The reverberations of this persist today in what the author calls “bad history.” Her work is clearly intended to correct these stereotypes and mount a defence against historical criticism by Westerners. This approach frames the main question of the book, when and how did female infanticide become so Chinese? Unlike many other cultural histories, this book adopts a micro rather than macro perspective. 1 Both Chinese and Western representations of female infanticide in late imperial China and their interaction give this volume its structure. King writes that she is painting ever-wider concentric circles of concern around the Chinese infant girl. The first circle encompasses the mentalities and emotions of those present at the birth of these female babies (Chapter 1). Chapter 2 examines Chinese literati opposed to female infanticide, and focuses on one scholar who never passed any of the civil examinations, Yu Zhi 余治 (1804 –74) as their main representative. In Chapter 3 King investigates Westerners, including sinologists and missionaries, and the knowledge they spread about infanticide in China and abroad. In the next chapter she focuses on Gabriel Palâtre (1830–78), a Jesuit supporter of the Oeuvre de la Sainte-Enfance ( Holy Childhood Association), who appealed to Catholic European and American children to make regular small offerings which in the long run made...
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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1387-6805
eISSN
1568-5268
DOI
10.1163/15685268-00172p14
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

China’s current stark gender imbalance begs historical investigation into the root causes of female infanticide there. Yet as one delves back into the nation’s past, what one finds are not bodies but outraged voices condemning both the practice and the Chinese nation. Michelle King argues that in late imperial China much of Westerners’ fascination with female infanticide was due to its construction. Female infanticide became a totemic marker of Chinese culture for them (along with judicial torture and foot binding), exposing Chinese barbarity. The reverberations of this persist today in what the author calls “bad history.” Her work is clearly intended to correct these stereotypes and mount a defence against historical criticism by Westerners. This approach frames the main question of the book, when and how did female infanticide become so Chinese? Unlike many other cultural histories, this book adopts a micro rather than macro perspective. 1 Both Chinese and Western representations of female infanticide in late imperial China and their interaction give this volume its structure. King writes that she is painting ever-wider concentric circles of concern around the Chinese infant girl. The first circle encompasses the mentalities and emotions of those present at the birth of

Journal

NAN NÜBrill

Published: Mar 24, 2015

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