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Polyandry and Wife-Selling In Qing Dynasty ChinaSurvival Strategies and Judicial Interventions$
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Matthew H. Sommer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520287037

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520287037.001.0001

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Absolutism versus Pragmatism in Central Court Treatment of Wife Sales

Absolutism versus Pragmatism in Central Court Treatment of Wife Sales

Chapter:
(p.308) 10 Absolutism versus Pragmatism in Central Court Treatment of Wife Sales
Source:
Polyandry and Wife-Selling In Qing Dynasty China
Author(s):

Matthew H. Sommer

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520287037.003.0011

Chapter 11 explores a tension in central-court deliberations between an absolutist policy toward female chastity, which insisted on prosecuting all wife sales as adultery, and a pragmatic position, which understood most wife sales to be motivated by poverty and to be a symptom of mounting social crisis. This tension is seen in the chastity cult, the treatment of familial particularism in major cases subject to judicial review, the Autumn Assizes, and debates about whether poverty should be treated as a mitigating circumstance. This tension also pitted chastity against other fundamentalist priorities, especially family hierarchy.

Keywords:   Autumn Assizes, chastity cult, particularism, judicial review, major cases

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