Cover: Death by a Thousand Cuts, from Harvard University PressCover: Death by a Thousand Cuts in HARDCOVER

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$42.00 • £33.95 • €38.00

ISBN 9780674027732

Publication Date: 03/15/2008

Short

336 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

38 halftones

World

In a public square in Beijing in 1904, multiple murderer Wang Weiqin was executed before a crowd of onlookers. He was among the last to suffer the extreme punishment known as lingchi. Called by Western observers “death by a thousand cuts” or “death by slicing,” this penalty was reserved for the very worst crimes in imperial China.

A unique interdisciplinary history, Death by a Thousand Cuts is the first book to explore the history, iconography, and legal contexts of Chinese tortures and executions from the tenth century until lingchi’s abolition in 1905. The authors then turn their attention to an in-depth investigation of “oriental” tortures in the Western imagination. While early modern Europeans often depicted Chinese institutions as rational, nineteenth- and twentieth-century readers consumed pictures of lingchi executions as titillating curiosities and evidence of moral inferiority. By examining these works in light of European conventions associated with despotic government, Christian martyrdom, and ecstatic suffering, the authors unpack the stereotype of innate Chinese cruelty and explore the mixture of fascination and revulsion that has long characterized the West’s encounter with “other” civilizations.

Compelling and thought-provoking, Death by a Thousand Cuts questions the logic by which states justify tormenting individuals and the varied ways by which human beings have exploited the symbolism of bodily degradation for political aims.

Awards & Accolades

  • 2009 Wallace K. Ferguson Prize, Canadian Historical Association
  • Honorable Mention, 2008 Association of American Publishers PROSE Award, World History & Biography/Autobiography Category
A Pattern of Violence: How the Law Classifies Crimes and What It Means for Justice, by David Alan Sklansky, from Harvard University Press

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound, by Daphne A. Brooks, from Harvard University Press

“Everything I Wanted”: Black Women Listeners and the High Fidelity Culture of Taste-Making

Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound, praises Hulu’s High Fidelity series, whose main characters are creative, intelligent Black women who are passionate about music and confident in their tastes and opinions. Where are the other shows like it?