Polyandry and Wife Sale in Qing Dynasty China

In China during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), polyandry and wife sale were widespread survival strategies practiced by the rural poor in conditions of overpopulation, shrinking farm sizes, and worsening sex ratios. Polyandry involved bringing in an outside, single male to help support a family in exchange for sharing the wife; wife sale involved the transfer of a woman from one husband to another, to become the latter's wife, in exchange for cash payment. These two practices represented opposite ends of a spectrum of strategies to mobilize the sexual and reproductive labor of women in order to supplement household incomes and maintain subsistence. If we take into account lived experience among the poor, no clear distinction can be drawn between marriage and the traffic in women in Qing China; similarly, the normative distinction between marriage and sex work that was basic to law and elite ideology cannot be sustained.

Post-Truth Moments in History

The Oxford English Dictionary has named “post-truth” the word of 2016. Post-truth is defined as, "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief." Our panel of Ohio State University professors looks at different historical contexts/cases where generally accepted “truths” were somehow rendered unimportant, whether deliberately or unintentionally, thereby providing historical context for our more recent “post-truth” moments.

Repertoires, performances, and institution creation: Comparing Regime Consolidation in China and Taiwan, 1949-1955

Presented by Julia Strauss, Senior Faculty Fellow, SOAS, University of London, at the Center for Historical Research, Department of History at The Ohio State University on January 10, 2014.

Much of the state building literature that comes from a Weberian perspective focuses on the creation and solidification of state institutions, particularly those bureaucratic institutions concerned with external defense, internal order, the extraction of sufficient resources to fund the state apparatus, and the recruitment and socialization for the state bureaucracy itself. Other literatures in a more rational choice vein, particularly associated with Robert Bates’ work on Africa, focus on how incentives for individuals within state bureaucracies often lead to rent seeking behaviour that undercuts the wider state building project. My work seeks to fill in the large grey areas and gaps between these two literatures on state building by focusing on they dynamics of how the higher reaches of the state mobilize the lower reaches of the bureaucracy through campaigns that intensely focus the nascent capacity of state agents on a series of extraordinary actions and programs, and they ways in which these campaigns either support or undercut other processes in the institutionalization of the bureaucracy that tend towards regular procedures, processes and rules.