What Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in 19th Century China

By Tobie Meyer-Fong | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Marked Bodies

Although Yu Zhi saw moral clarity in the turmoil of his times, many of his contemporaries struggled to make sense of a world in which seemingly fixed habits and bodily markers were subject to transgression and manipulation. In the context of civil war, countless people took to the roads and waterways of Jiangnan; the scale of mobility and migration matched or exceeded that of death and destruction. At a time when bandits joined militias, when surrendered soldiers switched allegiances (or defected) with seemingly promiscuous abandon, when members of the same family supported opposing causes, when refugees left home and could not return, and when captives were inducted into military operations on all sides, people looked for markers that revealed identities, hoping for certainty even as it dissolved.1 And they adjusted and readjusted their own appearance and behavior, sometimes recording their discomfort in doing so, in order to conform to prevailing norms in contested territory. Things and people were not always what they seemed. How did people recognize friend and enemy when the normal marks of commitment and loyalty were unstable or deliberately abandoned? Even in ordinary times, visual and aural clues about a stranger’s identity were worthy of observation and comment. In the context of war, an out-

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What Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in 19th Century China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Author’s Note xv
  • Chapter One- War 1
  • Chapter Two- Words 21
  • Chapter Three- Marked Bodies 65
  • Chapter Four- Bones and Flesh 99
  • Chapter Five- Wood and Ink 135
  • Chapter Six- Loss 175
  • Chapter Seven- Endings 203
  • Notes 209
  • Glossary 271
  • Bibliography 275
  • Index 305
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