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Global Lynching and Collective ViolenceVolume 1: Asia, Africa, and the Middle East$
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Michael Pfeifer

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040801

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040801.001.0001

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A Different Kind of War

A Different Kind of War

Summary Execution and the Politics of Men of Force in Late-Qing China, 1864–1911

(p.34) 2 A Different Kind of War
Global Lynching and Collective Violence

Weiting Guo

University of Illinois Press

In this chapter, Weiting Guo examines the history of extralegal executions in modern China. From the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, China witnessed the largest number of summary executions annually in its history. The extensive use of this extraordinary procedure in conjunction with the regular public executions by political regimes, local officials, and militia had considerable influence on modern Chinese legal culture. Drawing on a wide range of archival sources, Guo challenges the view that the prevalence of summary execution constituted merely instances of “lawlessness” and “abuses” of punishment. Guo argues by contrast that the approach of judicial economy, the competition between central and local governments, the continued trend of local militarization, and the ideology of popular justice all contributed to the “sanctioned” practice of summary execution. Moreover, Guo asserts that after the late 1830s, the practice of summary execution transformed from merely “expediency” in judicial procedure to extensive “exclusion” of local roughs or subversives that were perceived as evil or worthless.

Keywords:   summary executions, modern China, Chinese legal culture, local militarization, popular justice

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