Death by a Thousand Cuts

Death by a Thousand Cuts

by Timothy Brook, Jérôme Bourgon, Gregory Blue
     
 

ISBN-10: 0674027736

ISBN-13: 9780674027732

Pub. Date: 03/28/2008

Publisher: Harvard

In a public square in Beijing in 1904, multiple murderer Wang Weiqin was executed before a crowd of onlookers. He was among the last to suffer the extreme punishment known as lingchi. Called by Western observers “death by a thousand cuts” or “death by slicing,” this penalty was reserved for the very worst crimes in imperial China.

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Overview

In a public square in Beijing in 1904, multiple murderer Wang Weiqin was executed before a crowd of onlookers. He was among the last to suffer the extreme punishment known as lingchi. Called by Western observers “death by a thousand cuts” or “death by slicing,” this penalty was reserved for the very worst crimes in imperial China.

A unique interdisciplinary history, Death by a Thousand Cuts is the first book to explore the history, iconography, and legal contexts of Chinese tortures and executions from the tenth century until lingchi’s abolition in 1905. The authors then turn their attention to an in-depth investigation of “oriental” tortures in the Western imagination. While early modern Europeans often depicted Chinese institutions as rational, nineteenth- and twentieth-century readers consumed pictures of lingchi executions as titillating curiosities and evidence of moral inferiority. By examining these works in light of European conventions associated with despotic government, Christian martyrdom, and ecstatic suffering, the authors unpack the stereotype of innate Chinese cruelty and explore the mixture of fascination and revulsion that has long characterized the West’s encounter with “other” civilizations.

Compelling and thought-provoking, Death by a Thousand Cuts questions the logic by which states justify tormenting individuals and the varied ways by which human beings have exploited the symbolism of bodily degradation for political aims.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674027732
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
03/28/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,153,319
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

1. The Execution of Wang Weiqin

2. The Laws of Punishment in Late-Imperial China

3. The Origins and Legitimacy Problems of Lingchi

4. Lingchi in the Ming Dynasty

5. Tormenting the Dead

6. Chinese Torture in the Western Mind

7. Qing Executions and European Supplices

8. Georges Bataille and the Supplicé Chinois

9. Retrospective

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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