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Between Birth and DeathFemale Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century China$
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Michelle T. King

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785983

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785983.001.0001

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Seeing Bodies

Seeing Bodies

Experts and Evidence

(p.77) Three Seeing Bodies
Between Birth and Death

Michelle T. King

Stanford University Press

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.

Keywords:   infanticide, China, Jesuit, missionaries, Royal Asiatic Society, orientalism, Gabriel Palatre, Catholic

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