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Author Sommer, Matthew Harvey, 1961- author

Title Polyandry and wife-selling in Qing Dynasty China : survival strategies and judicial interventions / Matthew H. Sommer
Published Oakland, California : University of California Press, [2015]
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Description 1 online resource (xiii, 496 pages) : map
Contents Cover; Contents; Acknowledgments; Conventions in the Text; Map: Provinces of China Proper within the Qing Empire, circa 1800; Introduction; PART ONE: POLYANDRY; 1. "Getting a Husband to Support a Husband"; 2. Attitudes of Families, Communities, and Women toward Polyandry; 3. The Intermediate Range of Practice; PART TWO: WIFE-SELLING; 4. Anatomy of a Wife Sale; 5. Analysis of Prices in Wife Sales; 6. Negotiations between Men in Wife Sales; 7. Wives, Natal Families, and Children; 8. Four Variations on a Theme; PART THREE: POLYANDRY AND WIFE-SELLING IN QING LAW
9. Formal Law and Central Court Interpretation from Ming through High Qing10. Absolutism versus Pragmatism in Central Court Treatment of Wife Sales; 11. Flexible Adjudication of Routine Cases in the Local Courts; Conclusion; Appendices A-E; APPENDIX A: QING DYNASTY REIGN PERIODS (1644-1912); APPENDIX B: PROFILES OF THE PROTAGONISTS IN WIFE SALES; APPENDIX C: PRICES IN WIFE SALES; APPENDIX D: THE QING PENAL SYSTEM; APPENDIX E: JUDICIAL REVIEW (AS SEEN IN XINGKE TIBEN); Character List; Notes; References; Index; A; B; C; D; E; F; G; H; I; J; K; L; M; N; O; P; Q; R; S; T; U; V; W; X; Y; Z
Summary This book is a study of polyandry, wife-selling, and a variety of related practices in China during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). By analyzing over 1200 legal cases from local and central court archives, Matthew Sommer explores the functions played by marriage, sex, and reproduction in the survival strategies of the rural poor under conditions of overpopulation, worsening sex ratios, and shrinking farm sizes. Polyandry and wife-selling represented opposite ends of a spectrum of strategies. At one end, polyandry was a means to keep the family together by expanding it. A woman would bring in a second husband in exchange for his help supporting her family. In contrast, wife sale was a means to survive by breaking up a family: a husband would secure and emergency infusion of cash while his wife would escape poverty and secure a fresh start with another man
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes Print version record
Subject Married women -- China -- Social conditions -- Case studies.
Polyandry -- China -- Case studies.
Rural poor -- China -- Case studies.
China -- Social conditions -- 1644-1912.
Genre/Form Case studies.
Case studies.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 0520962192 (electronic bk.)
9780520962194 (electronic bk.)