While world and comparative historians need not research each local instance in great depth, Jörg Fisch's recent article "Dying for the Dead: Sati in Universal Context" neglects most of the research on a case he stresses, China. Fisch's argument that only "outsiders" can end following in death practices overlooks how historical movements compromise such clear categorization and relies rhetorically on terms that foreclose the possibility of abolition by "insiders." His claim that only "outsiders" have historically ended such practices overlooks the complexities of the effects (and causes) of colonialism and the unanswerable question of what might have happened without it. His choice to set aside in his analysis the means of death confl icts with evidence he provides that suggests means might have fi gured in women's own calculations about how to demonstrate faithfulness to the dead, further foreclosing the possibility that insiders can change their own societies.
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Nov 7, 2007