Cover: Sold People: Traffickers and Family Life in North China, from Harvard University PressCover: Sold People in HARDCOVER

Sold People

Traffickers and Family Life in North China

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Product Details


$54.50 • £43.95 • €49.00

ISBN 9780674971974

Publication Date: 03/20/2017


408 pages

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

15 halftones, 3 maps, 4 tables


This brilliant exposé—no other word will do—concentrates on late Qing (or Manchu) China at the end of the 19th century, when trafficking was illegal but the laws were widely ignored or too vague. Ransmeier pursues the subject into the era of the post-1911 Republic, and on to Mao’s China, where the Communist Party’s one-child policies put a new kind of pressure on the family. As Ransmeier underlines, trafficking was not a system but a process, and it still is.—Jonathan Mirsky, Times Higher Education

Making innovative use of police and court archives dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Ransmeier shows that Chinese families often bought and sold family members… China today still suffers from widespread human trafficking. Ransmeier’s richly detailed stories of individual cases show how societies can come to accept the trade in people as a normal kind of business.—Andrew J. Nathan, Foreign Affairs

Although several books touch on human trafficking as it relates to prostitution, gender issues, or famine, this is the first to focus specifically on trafficking and on the many different forms it took in late-Qing and Republican China. Meticulously researched and drawing on an impressive array of archival documents from a wide range of collections, Sold People is a rich, fascinating work.—Kathryn Edgerton-Tarpley, author of Tears from Iron: Cultural Responses to Famine in Nineteenth-Century China

A remarkable work of social history. While cognizant of legal debates and elite discourse about slavery and trafficking, the book’s greatest strength is the way it delves into the nitty-gritty world of individual traffickers and their individual victims that emerge from local yamen and police records. Sold People marks Johanna Ransmeier as a leader in the new generation of social historians of China.—Ruth Rogaski, author of Hygienic Modernity: Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China

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