Planned control of offspring size and composition--both prenatal and postnatal--had long been practiced in pre-transitional populations in the East and the West. There exists an immense literature documenting the widespread practice of infanticide and abortion in premodern and early modern Japan and China. Between these two traditional means of family control, infanticide was the procedure more easily and cheaply available to the common people in the two East Asian societies . Although there appears to be no clear evidence of outright infanticide in pre-industrial Europe, child abandonment was widely practiced in many parts of preindustrial Europe, resulting in very high infant and child mortality. More or less conscious neglect by parents was also non-negligible, as it is argued to have been a major factor contributing to the persistence of high infant and early childhood mortality in various parts of Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Child control, though widely known in both the East and the West, has in the most part been excluded by existing studies as reproductive control strategies. The European perspective of reproduction in the past focused almost exclusively on fertility, and privileged only two forms of control: forgoing marriage, or cutting short a reproductive span by delaying marriage. These studies viewed infanticide in preindustrial China and Japan largely as forms of positive check stemming from poverty and desperation, or even as a barrier against reproductive control. Although they differed in the reproductive-cultural and institutional contexts and operated differently in respective reproductive regimes, infanticide in preindustrial East Asia and child abandonment in preindustrial Europe both reflected active roles of human agency in reproductive control. In this paper, we examine and compare the meanings, patterns, and reproductive effects of postnatal control of family size and composition in five pre-industrial populations in East Asia and Europe. We conduct a systematic and comprehensive review of existing knowledge on postnatal family control--in the forms of infanticide, child neglect, and child abandonment--in premodern and early modern East Asia and Europe. Next, we examine the reproductive effects of postnatal family control in five Eurasian populations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This paper represents one of the first attempts to empirically and comparatively assess the roles that postnatal family control played in the pre-transitional demographic regimes in the East and the West.
|Titolo:||Child Control as a Reproductive Strategy|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2010|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||3.1 Articolo su libro|