Chinese Outcasts: Discrimination and Emancipation in Late Imperial China
Outcasts and pariahs are known to exist in several Asian countries but have usually not been associated with traditional Chinese society. "Chinese Outcasts" shows that some Chinese were in fact treated as outcasts or semi-outcasts. They include the boat people of South China and certain less well-known groups in different regions, including the "musicians' households" and the "fallen people." The reasons for their inferior status and perceived impurity is examined, as well as the intent behind a series of imperial emancipation edicts in the 1720s and 30s. The edict provided an escape route from inferior legal status but failed to put a quick end to customary social discrimination.
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