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Polyandry and Wife-Selling In Qing Dynasty China – Survival Strategies and Judicial Interventions - California Scholarship Online
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Polyandry and Wife-Selling In Qing Dynasty China: Survival Strategies and Judicial Interventions

Matthew H. Sommer


This book uses over 1,200 legal cases from Qing dynasty archives to analyze polyandry, wife-selling, and other practices that mobilized a woman’s sexual and reproductive labor to help support her family. This analysis reveals the roles played by marriage, sex, and reproduction in survival strategies under conditions of overpopulation, worsening sex ratios, and shrinking farm sizes. If we focus on social practice among the poor (instead of the normative discourse), normative boundaries between marriage and the traffic in women—and between marriage and sex work—cannot be sustained. With polyandr ... More

Keywords: polyandry, wife-selling, polyamory, prostitution, sex ratio, sex work, marriage, traffic in women, Qing dynasty, law, survival strategies

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780520287037
Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2016 DOI:10.1525/california/9780520287037.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Matthew H. Sommer, author