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Death in Beijing
Murder and Forensic Science in Republican China


Part of Science in History

  • Date Published: July 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107126060

£ 44.99

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About the Authors
  • In this innovative and engaging history of homicide investigation in Republican Beijing, Daniel Asen explores the transformation of ideas about death in China in the first half of the twentieth century. In this period, those who died violently or under suspicious circumstances constituted a particularly important population of the dead, subject to new claims by police, legal and medical professionals, and a newspaper industry intent on covering urban fatality in sensational detail. Asen examines the process through which imperial China's old tradition of forensic science came to serve the needs of a changing state and society under these dramatically new circumstances. This is a story of the unexpected outcomes and contingencies of modernity, presenting new perspectives on China's transition from empire to modern nation state, competing visions of science and expertise, and the ways in which the meanings of death and dead bodies changed amid China's modern transformation.

    • Presents a textured description of interactions between law and science in early twentieth-century China
    • Uses compelling historical materials to approach abstract questions about the nature and implications of 'modernity' in China and beyond
    • Balances a detailed view of everyday life in Republican Beijing with watershed moments in modern Chinese history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Dealing with the dead involved many important things in Republican Beijing. In this profoundly original study in political, urban, and intellectual change, Asen shows how methods of forensic examination with a millennial pedigree paradoxically participated in the construction of the modern state.' Pierre-Étienne Will, Collège de France

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107126060
    • length: 256 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 163 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Suspicious deaths and city life in Republican Beijing
    2. On the case with the Beijing procuracy
    3. Disputed forensics and skeletal remains
    4. Publicity, professionals, and the cause of forensic reform
    5. Professional politics of a crime scene
    6. Dissection and its discontents
    7. Legal medicine during the Nanjing decade
    Conclusion: a history of forensic modernity

  • Author

    Daniel Asen, Rutgers University, New Jersey
    Daniel Asen is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Rutgers University, Newark. His published research has investigated the social and cultural contexts of science and medicine in late imperial and twentieth-century China, with attention to transnational and global perspectives. His work has been published in Social History of Medicine and East Asian Science, Technology and Society, as well as within edited volumes on legal history and the history of medicine in China. He is a member of the American Historical Association, the Association for Asian Studies, and the International Society for Chinese Law and History.

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