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

By Tobie Meyer-Fong | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Bones and Flesh

This chapter is about dead bodies—what they were understood to mean and how they were disposed of—under the terrifying circumstance of civil war and its aftermath.1 More even than the epidemics and floods of the 1820s and 1830s, the massive scale and geographical spread of casualties associated with the Taiping War, whether from illness, starvation, suicide, or violence, raised troubling questions about the state of the polity, society, and cosmos. Recent scholarship on places as disparate as post—Civil War America, postwar Vietnam, seventeenth-century Korea, postgenocide Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia suggest how the bodies of the dead function as politically fraught and emotionally meaningful symbols in the aftermath of political crises.2 In wartime Jiangnan, questions centered on disposing of the dead had both material and deeply political dimensions. Most concretely, where were the bodies put—and who arranged for them to be put there? What meanings did these corpses engender, and what kinds of description did they command? And conversely, what silences and blank spaces did the large numbers of dead occasion—what was suppressed, elided, deemed unspeakable? Whom did the dead belong to—in a world where death under certain circumstances, including war, entailed

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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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