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MANAGING MARTYRDOM: FEMALE SUICIDE AND STATECRAFT IN MID-QING CHINA

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During the first 150 years of Qing rule, the suicides of women were the subject of unprecedented quantities of legal and ritual legislation and a frequent topic of debate in imperial, official, and literati discourses on law, ethics, and social order. This legislation often appeared contradictory, banning honors for suicide in principle, yet granting frequent exceptions. This article examines the complex array of political, cultural, and social factors that produced this intensification of state and elite interest in female suicide and created the apparent inconsistency of state policies. It argues that evolving Qing policies toward female suicide reflected a surprising convergence of statecraft goals, Qing imperial agendas, Han literati interest in promoting orthodox social norms, Manchu ethnic concerns, and the enduring fascination that the pathos of the female martyr held for male rulers and officials in general.

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/content/journals/10.1163/156852601750122991
2001-06-01
2015-05-28

Affiliations: 1: University of Utah

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