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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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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Absolutism versus Pragmatism in Central Court Treatment of Wife Sales

Absolutism versus Pragmatism in Central Court Treatment of Wife Sales

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

Matthew H. Sommer

University of California Press

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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