Drowning Girls in China: Female Infanticide in China since 1650

Drowning Girls in China: Female Infanticide in China since 1650

by D. E. Mungello
     
 

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This groundbreaking book offers the first full analysis of the long-neglected and controversial subject of female infanticide in China. Although infanticide and child abandonment were worldwide phenomena from antiquity down to the nineteenth century when massive numbers of children were still being abandoned in Europe, China was unique in targeting girls almost

Overview

This groundbreaking book offers the first full analysis of the long-neglected and controversial subject of female infanticide in China. Although infanticide and child abandonment were worldwide phenomena from antiquity down to the nineteenth century when massive numbers of children were still being abandoned in Europe, China was unique in targeting girls almost exclusively. Yet despite its persistence for two thousand years, little has been published on a practice that is deeply sensitive within China and little understood by outsiders.

Drawing on little-known Chinese documents and illustrations, noted historian D. E. Mungello describes the causes and continuation of female infanticide since 1650 despite efforts by Confucian moralists, Buddhist teachings, government officials, and even imperial edicts to stop the practice. The arrival of Christian missionaries led to foreign involvement as well, with Catholic priests baptizing abandoned and dying infants in Nanjing and Beijing beginning in the early 1600s. Mission efforts peaked in the nineteenth century when the European-based Society of the Holy Childhood urged Catholic children to contribute their pennies to help neglected children in China. However, most of the infant victims were drowned at birth in the privacy of their homes, thereby escaping the scrutiny of the law and the public.

Mungello brings this secretive practice to light with a nuanced and balanced analysis of the cultural, economic, and social causes of early infanticide and its contemporary manifestation in sex-selected abortion as a result of the government's one-child policy. Presenting female infanticide as a human rather than a distinctly Chinese problem, he estimates the tragic loss of girls in the millions.

Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review
In this evocatively titled volume, D. E. Mungello explores the causes, consequences, and multifarious reactions to female infanticide in China. . . . Fascinating.
Monumenta Serica
Both [of Mungello’s] books very candidly treat themes which, in the general celebration over the friendship and cultural exchange between Europe and China, are commonly neglected, namely, sexual abuse and infanticide. . . . In sum, these are two books that in addition to being worth reading are also thought-provoking.
R G. Tiedemann
Professor Mungello’s important study focuses on the specific and at times widespread phenomenon of female infanticide in nineteenth-century China. He is to be congratulated for having expertly tackled a sensitive issue which has hitherto received scant scholarly attention.
Journal Of Psychohistory - Dan Dervin
This study represents a milestone in understanding the history of Chinese childhood.
Journal of Asian Studies - Weijing Lu
In this work, written with compassion, D. E. Mungello aims to tell a 'human’ story of female infanticide in China. . . . Given the sensitivity of the subject and the relative scarcity of research, in particular in English, Mungello has greatly enriched our knowledge of this topic. Readers will find in it abundantly useful information. Its publication will no doubt pave the way for more inquiries into an important yet difficult topic that has to this date deterred many other historians.
Kathleen L. Lodwick
Shocking, yet highly informative. Mungello has taken the most difficult and personal of topics—female infanticide—and with thorough research and thoughtful consideration has given us an historical account of the practice in China.
R. G. Tiedemann
Professor Mungello’s important study focuses on the specific and at times widespread phenomenon of female infanticide in nineteenth-century China. He is to be congratulated for having expertly tackled a sensitive issue which has hitherto received scant scholarly attention.
Monumenta Serica: Journal of Oriental Studies
Both [of Mungello’s] books very candidly treat themes which, in the general celebration over the friendship and cultural exchange between Europe and China, are commonly neglected, namely, sexual abuse and infanticide. . . . In sum, these are two books that in addition to being worth reading are also thought-provoking.
Monumenta Serica: Journal of Oriental Studies
Both [of Mungello’s] books very candidly treat themes which, in the general celebration over the friendship and cultural exchange between Europe and China, are commonly neglected, namely, sexual abuse and infanticide. . . . In sum, these are two books that in addition to being worth reading are also thought-provoking.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742557321
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
06/27/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
186
Sales rank:
1,202,869
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

D. E. Mungello is professor of history at Baylor University.

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