Experts and Evidence
Chapter 3 examines the writing of Western travelers, amateur scientists, diplomats, and missionaries, such as the French Jesuit priest Gabriel Palatre (1830-78), who had no access to the inner lives of Chinese families yet were intent on gathering different types of evidence regarding the prevalence of infanticide in China. The exact meaning of such evidence, which notably included visceral encounters with infant corpses, was hotly debated, since the precise cause of death could never be discerned. Even when original Chinese texts and images generated by native male scholars were copied and translated for Western audiences as soon as authentic proof of infanticide, the resulting message had more to say about the visual exoticism of Chinese culture and language than about the social practice of infanticide per se.
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