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Disgraceful MattersThe Politics of Chastity in Eighteenth-Century China$
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Janet Theiss

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520240339

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520240339.001.0001

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Divided Loyalties: Natal Families and the Exercise of Patrilineal Authority

Divided Loyalties: Natal Families and the Exercise of Patrilineal Authority

Chapter:
(p.82) Chapter 4 Divided Loyalties: Natal Families and the Exercise of Patrilineal Authority
Source:
Disgraceful Matters
Author(s):

Janet M. Theiss

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520240339.003.0007

Questions about the nature of patriarchal authority, who had the right to exercise it, and its relationship to the enforcement and defense of women's virtue were contested more indirectly in discourse and social practice, producing subtle shifts in the state's and popular understanding of the nature of patriarchy and its relationship to chastity. In most criminal cases, neighbors were present in the background and often played a critical role as witnesses, mediators, and parties to conflict. Quite often, natal family members played a much more central role in resolving social conflicts or causing conflicts between women and their in-laws. While the normative authority of lineage leaders was often diluted by opposition to their judgments or distracted from moral priorities by concerns about reputation, greed, or favoritism, the patriarchal prerogative of the patriline was also challenged by the ritual, legal, and emotional claims of women's natal families.

Keywords:   natal families, women's families, judicial authority, patriarchal authority, lineage leaders, mediators

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