The introduction begins with an anecdote of a premodern statesman and poet, Su Shi, describing with melancholy an instance of infanticide. Though the instance he recounts dates back to the eleventh century, the legacy of the practice he laments stems well into the present, where infanticide, particularly female infanticide, is heavily connoted with Chinese culture and history. Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of studying female infanticide in China, is the taken-for-granted contours of its practice, persistence, and meaning. Historian William Langer has remarked that infanticide was widely regarded as a practice particular to China and other Asian countries, neglecting its prevalence in Western history. Infanticide remains for most people a historical curiosity when it occurs in Western societies, not one of its historical fixtures, as it has been imagined for Chinese society. This book attempts to account for this selective forgetting and collective remembering.
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