m Chinese Deathscape

Edited by Thomas S. Mullaney

The Chinese Deathscape

Grave Reform in Modern China

In the past decade alone, more than ten million corpses have been exhumed and reburied across the Chinese landscape. The campaign has transformed China’s graveyards into sites of acute personal, social, political, and economic contestation.

In this digital volume, three historians of China, Jeffrey Snyder-Reinke, Christian Henriot, and Thomas S. Mullaney, chart out the history of China’s rapidly shifting deathscape. Each essay grapples with a different dimension of grave relocation and burial reform in China over the past three centuries: from the phenomenon of “baby towers” in the Lower Yangzi region of late imperial China, to the histories of death in the city of Shanghai, and finally to the history of grave relocation during the contemporary period, examined by Mullaney, when both its scale and tempo increased dramatically. Rounding off these historical analyses, a colophon by platform developers David McClure and Glen Worthey speak to new reading methodologies emerging from a format in which text and map move in concert to advance historical argumentation.

Thomas S. Mullaney is Professor of Chinese History at Stanford University.

Stanford University Press’s investment in publishing works that make real use of online visualization has paid off with The Chinese Deathscape. This combination of historical narratives, maps, and data opens up new ways of thinking for scholars and their audiences alike.Peter Bol, Harvard University
Grave relocation, that emotional and pervasive practice in rapidly developing China, serves as an ideal subject for a bold experiment in integrating scholarly text, historical data, and carefully constructed, dynamic maps. The Chinese Deathscape is a model for future work in digital humanities and a wonderful tool for teaching and thinking about endangered cultural practices.Kristin Stapleton, State University of New York, Buffalo
Exploring Chinese Grave Relocation The Chinese Deathscape features an augmented narrative platform. Anytime you see an underlined passage of text, you can click on it to reposition the map to the location relevant to the narrative. At any time you can turn on or off map options by toggling the button on the top left of the map. This opens a dropdown menu featuring a variety of demographic and historic map layers. You can choose different combinations of base layers, demographic overlays, or historic overlays, and then cancel them out by clicking the gray X. Please note that, depending upon your location and zoom level in the map, not every historic map or demographic overlay will show up clearly. At any time you can return to the overview map by clicking on the reset sign on the top right. Each grave relocation event is assigned a circle of a different diameter. The map key on the bottom left explains what these diameters mean. In certain cases, the number of relocated graves is unknown. In those cases, the relocation is assigned a smaller, dark-blue circle. In addition to clicking on the text, you can interact with the map directly by clicking on the grave relocation circles. When you click on a circle, a window is opened containing further information about this relocation. Because many grave relocations have taken place in geographic proximity to one another, you will often find overlapping circles. When you click on a collection of overlapping circles, the pop-up menu will include a list of “Graves Nearby,” listing other relocations in that geographic area. You can also navigate the dataset using the time slider, which can be turned on using the toggle in the top left of the map. There are two ways to interact with the time slider. To filter the data according to a specific time span, simply click and drag your mouse on the time slider to indicate whatever date range you wish. Once you have created a time range, you can also animate the map by clicking and dragging the time range left or right. At any time, you can adjust the start and end dates of your filter by adjusting the time slider handles. If you would like to cite or share a specific map state (i.e., a geographic location, along with specific demographic layers, historic maps, or other features), click on the bookmark icon on the top right. When you click on this icon, the URL in your browser will update to include all relevant information of that map state. Simply highlight and copy this URL, which you can then send or cite. Anyone who navigates to that URL will find the same map state as when you clicked the citation icon. Data A Note Regarding Datasets, Accuracy, and Errors Due to the nature of the historical sources used for this study, and perhaps of humanistic sources more generally, the user may encounter spatial data that might at first seem inaccurate or imprecise. In the vast majority of cases, however, this will be the result not of inaccurate coordinate data but of the fact that our dataset involves unavoidable unevenness. For example, in certain instances we were only able to pin the location of a grave relocation to the level of a relatively large, mid-level administrative unit, such as a county. In such cases, the XY coordinates for the relocation will be pinned to what is known as the “centroid” of the administrative unit in question, a spatial/mathematical abstraction that corresponds to the “middle point” of the multisided polygon that represents the administrative unit on the map. In such cases, then, if a user zooms in closely on the map, below the level of the county, the point on the map will not correspond to any meaningful location or population center. Indeed, the “centroid” of a county might be in the middle of a body of water or a desert. In other cases, there are many grave relocations for which we can confidently pin data to lower-level administrative units, such as a particular township or village. Once again, however, the XY coordinates of this location will be pinned not to a specific street corner or address but rather to the centroid of that township or village. So, again, should users zoom in closely, expecting to find the exact location of the relocation, they will be misled. Such cases, it is important to clarify, are not to be considered “errors” in the spatial data, but rather outcomes of the unevenness of the dataset, an unevenness that is the rule rather than the exception in humanistic and historical analyses. There is a further issue, which is specific to the challenges and politics of doing spatial and cartographic research in the People's Republic of China (PRC) in particular. Namely, the PRC has long outlawed the publication of maps, base layers, and GIS systems that provide highly precise spatial data about the territory of the PRC. Indeed, as is well known, the PRC enforces an “offset” to ensure that any geospatial data about the PRC is rendered slightly inaccurately when projected on conventional mapping tools. For this reason, even our most fine-grained geospatial data in our dataset will, when a user zooms in very closely, appear to have drifted away from population centers in question, sometimes appearing in the middle of a creek or in the outskirts of a town. These kinds of discrepancies are products of the unavoidable and inevitable unevenness of humanistic and historical data and of the particular regulatory hurdles that govern cartography in the People's Republic of China. This is not to say that the user might not find real errors, of course. Although the editor and the publisher have gone to considerable lengths to check and recheck the spatial data, the possibility remains of incorrect datapoints having made their way into the final work. If you suspect that you have found an incorrect datapoint, you are encouraged to contact Stanford University Press to report the error. When doing so, please provide as much description as possible of the datapoint in question, so that the datapoint can be checked and, if erroneous, corrected. A Note on Quantitative Data A further point pertains to quantitative data on the platform—specifically, datapoints about the number of graves relocated in any particular locale. First and most obviously, the user will notice that only a subset of the datapoints in the platform carry quantitative values. The majority of grave relocation datapoints are assigned an “unknown” value, in the sense that while we know that a relocation took place in a particular place at a particular time, we do not in fact know how many bodies were exhumed and moved. In other instances, we are in possession of all such data: time, location, and scale. In those cases, such datapoints appear as larger circles (with the diameters of said circles corresponding to the number of bodies relocated). The reason for this diversity is simple: the datasets upon which the platform is based are themselves diverse, comprising many different types of primary source material. A subset of these sources make it possible to identify and confirm the number of bodies moved, and others do not. Given the historical value of both kinds of available data, the decision by the editor and platform designers was to preserve this diversity. A second point about quantitative data pertains to attribution. As outlined in the introductory essay by Mullaney, the scale of contemporary China's grave relocation initiatives is immense, involving the exhumation of more than ten million bodies. The most dramatic case, examined in the essay by Mullaney, is that of Zhoukou, in Henan Province. Here, approximately 2.5 million bodies were exhumed and reburied. Were one to isolate all of the datapoints specific to Zhoukou, however—that is to say, all datapoints wherein grave relocations are taking place in one or another subadministrative territory of Zhoukou—the algebraic sum of these relocation events would not equal 2.5 million. Why is this so? The reason for this seeming discrepancy—between quantitative values in the dataset and certain statements made in the context of the essay narratives—derives from the threshold below which we felt it inappropriate to assign quantitative values to a datapoint. Although multiple records confirm the aggregate scale of the Zhoukou relocation, the decision was that it would have been both useless to the user, and analytically irresponsible, to create a singular and immense “Zhoukou” datapoint, and then to assign it the value of “2.5 million.”. Instead, since our goal has been to exploit the dynamic functionality and granular possibilities of the platform to the greatest extent possible, the objective was to zoom in as closely as we could, and to identify as many of the specific instances of relocations as possible in the many sub-administrative units of Zhoukou (i.e., villages, townships, etc.), and where possible, to append these datapoints with temporal and scalar data. For this reason, one will not find a single, immense circle labeled “Zhoukou,” but rather a set of datapoints that collectively begins to fill out of the picture of the Zhoukou relocation. Some of these datapoints will have quantitative values assigned to them, while others are categorized as “unknown.” With that in mind, the reason the overall numbers for Zhoukou (as just one example) do not “add up” to the value of 2.5 million is, quite simply, because we wanted to be as faithful as possible to the gaps in the available primary source material. A Note on Data Structures A final point pertains to data structures and to the challenges of building ones that are compatible with heterogeneous datasets while also being versatile. For the three essays in this volume, the datasets upon which each is based vary a great deal from one another in terms of structural requirements. For example, in the contemporary period—as examined in the essay by Mullaney—the availability of fine-grained temporal data about grave relocations necessitated the inclusion of datapoints pertaining to, among other things, the “deadline” by which a grave or set of graves was required to be relocated, as per government decrees. For many of the datapoints in the Mullaney essay, then, the user will encounter temporal data specific to the year, month, and often day. For the essays by Henriot and Snyder-Reinke, however, the very notion of a “grave relocation deadline” is either irrelevant or irretrievable. In many cases, there was no central decree requiring that a particular grave be moved, with relocation being undertaken by other historical agents with other motivations. This heterogeneity is preserved in the platform. In the essay by Mullaney, for example, users will find meaningful data in the “deadline” field, while in the essays by Henriot and Snyder-Reinke, they will encounter either placeholder data or no data at all. In theory the platform could have been tailored to reveal or conceal particular data fields premised upon their relevance to each essay, and yet this would have been both costly (perhaps prohibitively so) and ultimately unnecessary. Instead, users should understand that, by virtue of the perhaps inherently heterogeneous properties of historical and humanistic data, there will be times when certain frictions or even incompatibilities emerge between particular datapoints and the overall data structure. The Datasets At the same time, in the interest of making these datasets available to users with their original data structures preserved, you will find links to download any or all of the three essay datasets, so that you can explore the datasets in their original forms and organized according to their original data structures. What is more, the original datasets contain surplus data, in the sense of datapoints that, while rich and potential insightful, are not exploited by the online platform. For the Snyder-Reinke dataset, download the linked CSV file here. For the Henriot dataset, download the linked CSV file here. For the Mullaney dataset, download the linked CSV file here. Downloadable datasets should be read under a UTF-8 encoding setting. Built by the Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Research in the Stanford University Libraries. People Thomas S. Mullaney Volume Editor and Professor of Chinese History at Stanford University Christian Henriot Contributor and Professor of Modern Chinese History at Aix-Marseille Université David McClure Contributor and graduate student in the Social Machines Group at the MIT Media Lab Jeffrey Snyder-Reinke Contributor and Professor of History at the College of Idaho Glen Worthey Contributor and Digital Humanities Librarian in the Stanford University Libraries The following individuals and organizations helped make The Chinese Deathscape a reality: Stanford University Student Researchers Emily Cao Michael Carter Xinguo Chen Jiabo Feng Krista Fryauff Grace Geng Mona Huang Vivian Kong Jocelyn Lee Karen Lee Jose Recinto Rahul Singreddy Max Wen Chuan Xu Carina Zeng Carina Zhang Stanford University Press Michael Keller Alan Harvey Friederike Sundaram Jasmine Mulliken Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis Celena Allen Amanda Bergado Catherine Nicole Coleman Zephyr Frank Amita Kumar Ranjeshni Sharma Erik Steiner Eleine Treharne Gabriel Wolfenstein Stanford University Center for Interdisciplinary and Digital Research Vijoy Abraham Scott Bailey Karl Grossman Jason Heppler David McClure Elijah Meeks Javier de la Rosa Stuart Snydman Drew Winget Glen Worthey Granting Institutions Stanford University Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) China Fund Stanford University Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Roberta Bowman Denning Initiative in the Digital Humanities Colleagues, Fellow Travelers, and Reviewers Nicole Barnes Peter Carroll Kimberly Durante James Evans Charles Fosselman Tom Foster Gabrielle Karampelas Jaroslaw Kapuscinski Michael Keller George Philip LeBourdais Jin Li Huwy-min Lucia Liu Stace Maples Rebecca Nedostup Michael Puett Julie Sweetkind-Singer Roshanna Sylvester Ruth Toulson Maria Van Buiten Robert Weller Caroline Winterer Zhaohui Xue Family and Friends Chiara Vernari Orfeo Vernari Mullaney Alexander Cook Annelise Heinz Introduction Thomas S. Mullaney Stanford University In recent decades, the blistering pace of China’s economic development and population growth has transformed graves into sites of acute personal, social, political, and economic contestation. Confronted with high population densities, fearful of economic slowdown, and eager to extract rental revenue from as much land as possible, local authorities and entrepreneurs have turned their eyes covetously upon the Chinese deathscape. Corpses are central to the history of modern China, and in particular, to the country's recent experience of giddy economic growth and social transformation. Facing urgent questions of sustainable economic development, many authorities have come to regard land burial as a traditional practice that can no longer be permitted by the state. For others with less magnanimous concerns, the exhumation of the dead has amounted to little more than ruthless land grabs by real estate developers and their political patrons. The history of grave relocation is complex, as evidenced by the myriad motives for digging up and moving human remains: such as to make space for dam and hydroelectric projects, highways, schools, railway lines, or coal mining operations. Corpses have also been moved for the purposes of real estate development and tourism. In a peculiar irony, some have been moved in order to free up space for other corpses: that is, for the purpose of building new and “modern” cemeteries to receive the cremated remains of corpses once buried in other parts of the country. The temporal dimensions of grave relocation are similarly complex. By exploring just a single fifteen-year period, one finds remarkable differences, both in the number bodies being relocated in any given moment, and in the geographic distribution of relocation activities. Readers are invited, for instance, to explore just how much the pace and geographic span of grave relocations change over the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Evicting the dead has a long history in China. Considering just the early modern and modern periods, one finds a complex history of grave relocation during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), and a similarly complex history of corpse removal during the twentieth century--notably, in major Chinese metropoles, such as early twentieth-century Shanghai. Throughout this history, the dead have been central to the politics of the living. The past fifteen years have taken these politics to new levels, witnessing the exhumation and relocation of over ten million corpses by our most conservative estimates. The contemporary period has not only been the most intensive period of grave relocation in Chinese history, but also globally. In this digital volume, three historians of China—Jeffrey Snyder-Reinke, Christian Henriot, and Thomas S. Mullaney—chart out the history of China’s rapidly shifting deathscape. The essays unfold within a custom-designed “augmented narrative” platform, built by David McClure and his colleagues at Stanford University. Each essay grapples with a different dimension of grave relocation and burial reform in China over the past three centuries: from the phenomenon of “baby towers” in the Lower Yangzi region of late imperial China, examined by Snyder-Reinke; to the histories of death in the city of Shanghai, examined by Henriot; and finally into the history of grave relocation during the contemporary period, examined by Mullaney, when both its scale and tempo increased dramatically. Rounding off these historical analyses, a colophon by platform developers David McClure and Glen Worthey speaks to new reading methodologies emerging from a format in which text and map move in concert to advance historical argumentation. The subjects addressed in these essays vary widely, mirroring the complexity of the historical phenomena themselves. In no way, therefore, does this volume claim to cover the history of grave relocation in all its many facets. Together, however, the essays in this volume do make one collective argument that we hope our readers will take to heart: To understand China, one needs to pay as close attention to the history of the dead as to the history of the living. Notes Source of image at the top of this essay: Raised graves outside of Tianjin city, ca. 1895. Wikimedia Commons. Cradle to Grave Baby Towers and the Politics of Infant Burial in Qing China Jeffrey Snyder-Reinke The College of Idaho Essay DOI: 10.21627/2019cd/jsr In the nineteenth century, foreign observers of China wrote prolifically about so-called “baby towers” that reportedly dotted the late imperial Chinese landscape. These buildings were constructed as depositories for the bodies of dead infants, whose corpses rarely received formal burials but were rather interred in shallow graves or left in the open to be consumed by wild animals. Due to their association with infants, baby towers became intimately connected to other issues such as childbirth, infanticide, and the perceived mistreatment of children in Qing China. In the minds of many foreigners, baby towers came to embody both a peculiar rendering of Chinese death practices, as well as a growing animus toward certain aspects of Chinese social life. Unfortunately, we know far too little about the historical development of infant burial in late imperial China. Relying on Chinese language sources, this essay attempts to outline such a history. In this essay, I make three interrelated arguments. First, I argue that due to gaps in the canonical prescriptions on mourning, there was some ambiguity about how properly to bury children who died under the age of eight sui.[1] As a result, it appears that many children were buried, if at all, with minimal effort. Second, I argue that this began to change in the eighteenth century as Qing officials in the northern provinces of Shaanxi and Shanxi began a campaign against the exposure of child corpses. I show that these campaigns began in northern China in the early eighteenth century and spread to the Lower Yangzi region, where they became a cornerstone of elite philanthropic activity by the mid-nineteenth century. Finally, I argue that what came to be known in the West as the “baby tower” was likely a localized, and relatively recent, solution to the problem of infant burial in the region around Shanghai. Infant Burial in Western Discourse In 1853, the peripatetic author Bayard Taylor visited the northern outskirts of Shanghai, accompanied by two American missionaries. Taylor described the following scene after passing by a large cemetery: Between the graves and the city wall stands a low building, in a clump of cedar trees. This is one of the “Baby Towers,” of which there are several near the city. All infants who die under the age of one year are not honored with burial, but done up in a package, with matting and cords, and thrown into the tower, or rather well, as it is sunk some distance below the earth. The top, which rises about ten feet above the ground, is roofed, but an aperture is left for casting in the bodies. Looking into it, we see that the tower is filled nearly to the roof with bundles of matting, from which exhales a pestilent effluvium.[2] Figure 1. Shanghai Baby Tower. John Scarth, Twelve Years in China, (Edinburgh: Thomas Constable, 1860), 103. Taylor’s account of these depositories was one of the first of what would eventually become a voluminous literature representing so-called “baby towers” to Western readers. For nearly a century afterward, observers of China frequently felt compelled to proffer their remarks on the burial practices of young children. Many commentators, some of whom had never even seen the structures, made little attempt to conceal their feelings of revulsion toward these depositories, which they considered to be malodorous killing grounds. Another early reference, by George W. Cooke in 1858, set the tone for many of the reports that would follow. While touring Shanghai with British Vice-Consul Frederick Harvey, Cooke recalled the following exchange. Undismayed, the energetic vice-consul, who sometimes acts as guide, philosopher, and friend, and expatiates with me over this maze. Advances through a vapour so thick that I wonder the Chinese do not cut it into blocks and use it for manure; and at a distance of five yards from the building puffed hard at his cheroot, and said, – “That is the Baby-tower.” “The —?” said I, inquiringly. “The Baby-tower. Look through that rent in the stonework – not too close, or the stream of effluvia may kill you. You see a mound of whisps of bamboo straw. It seems to move, but it is only the crawling of the worms. Sometimes a tiny leg or arm, or a little fleshless bone, protrudes from the straw. The tower is not so full now as I have seen it; they must have cleared it out recently.” “Is this a cemetery or a slaughterhouse?” “The Chinese say it is only a tomb. Coffins are dear, and the peasantry are poor. When a child dies, the parents wrap it round with bamboo, throw it in at that window, and all is done. When the tower is full, the proper authorities burn the heap, and spread the ashes over the land.” There is no inquiry, no check. The parent has power to kill or to save. Nature speaks in the heart of a Chinese mother as in the breast of an English matron. But want and shame sometimes shout louder still.[3] Figure 2. “Shanghai and Its Environs, 1862.” Notice the “baby tower” located just to the southwest of the walled Chinese city. United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO). One of the earlier reports of baby towers, this account, and others that followed, introduced one of the most vexing questions about these structures for Western audiences: Did baby towers receive the bodies of dead children or living ones? Undoubtedly, Cooke’s audience found his query as to whether the building was a cemetery or a slaughterhouse both horrifying and titillating, as it raised the possibility that baby towers were associated with one of the institutions foreigners found most outrageous in China, that of female infanticide. Scores of articles from the period made similar suggestions, insinuating that whenever the bodies of young girls were deposited into the towers, “the parents are not always particular to ascertain if it is quite dead or not.”[4] Other writers were far less circumspect, stating quite plainly that the baby tower was a “frightful murder-house,” and children “were thrown alive into this ghastly receptacle, and left to die at their leisure on the heaps of putrid bodies below.”[5] Figure 3. “A Baby Tomb in China.” Ballou’s Monthly Magazine (January-June 1870), 109. Although their original purpose was never entirely lost, for most readers baby towers were less about burying infants than about killing them. Considered in this light, the baby tower was interpreted by foreigners as a monument to Chinese people’s cruelty toward children and their disregard for human life more broadly. As a result, these buildings were to become yet another piece of evidence to support the persistent trope that Chinese people are baby killers.[6] Due to their link with infanticide, baby towers would forever be connected in many people’s minds with reproduction and its control, rather than with Chinese burial customs.[7] This essay is an attempt to situate baby towers within the broader context of infant burial practices in late imperial China. Figure 4. “A Baby Tower.” Mary Bryson, Child Life in Chinese Homes (London: Religious Tract Society, 1885), 16. Mourning the Infant Dead In reading through the historical sources, there is one sobering fact that is indisputable: there was a surfeit of dead infants in late imperial China.[8] We know, for example, that even in the best of circumstances, infant mortality was extremely high.[9] Even the Qianlong Emperor, who was certainly more able than most to secure the health of his offspring, would see only eight of his twenty-seven children survive into their thirties; ten of them died before the age of five.[10] Considering this grim state of affairs, the question naturally arose as to what to do with the proliferation of infant corpses. Historically, infants in China did not receive burial honors. Classical texts such as the Yili 儀禮 outlined mourning practices for those who died an “early death” (shang 殤). An early death was defined as any death that took place between the ages of eight sui and nineteen sui, as long as the deceased had not gone through the capping or pinning ceremonies and was not yet betrothed. The original text of the Yili divides premature deaths into three categories: zhangshang 長殤, “upper early deaths,” for those who died between the ages of sixteen and nineteen; zhongshang 中殤, “middle early deaths,” for those who perished between the ages of twelve and fifteen; and xiashang 下殤, “lower early deaths,” for those who died between the ages of eight and eleven. For each gradation of premature death, different mourning clothes were prescribed. The status of children who died before reaching the age of eight sui was ambiguous. Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 (127–200), who wrote one of the earliest and most influential commentaries on the Yili, specified that those who died before the age of eight “had no [mourning] clothes” worn for them and were “only wailed for.”[11] Zheng wrote that one day of wailing was permitted for each month the child had been alive. In other words, a child who had lived for twenty-six months could receive twenty-six days of wailing. A subsequent commentary on the Yili by Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130–1200) further explained, “Three months after a child is born, the father names it, so [if the child dies after then], it can be wailed for. However, if it does not yet have a name, then there should be no wailing.”[12] These provisions also found their way into Zhu Xi’s Jiali (家禮), or Family Rituals, which served as the most important text for specifying mourning practices during the later imperial period.[13] In the Bellies of Beasts and Birds Despite these specifications for mourning, classical texts provided parents with little guidance about how to bury children who died before the age of eight sui. Indeed, families appeared to have little direction in this regard, save for the pull of local custom. As a result, burial customs for children differed considerably, depending on a family’s native place and socioeconomic status. In general, most young children seem to have been buried with minimal effort, if at all. As the historian Susan Naquin has written, “When infants died, the bodies could be buried perfunctorily in shallow graves or simply abandoned. The older the child, the more elaborate the ceremony. Within private graveyards, certain (less desirable) areas were apparently reserved for infants and children.”[14] Perfunctory burial or abandonment appears to have been nearly universal during the Qing. About the burial of children in the region around Xiamen during the late Qing, J. J. M. de Groot wrote, The corpse is buried anywhere at a depth of a few inches, and the rest of the earth heaped up over it. Within a short time the dust returns to dust, or, as is very often the case, the remains are devoured by dogs and crows. No property in the ground is secured, nor is any attention paid to the spot afterwards. Many babies are not buried at all, the urn or box being merely set aside in the open country, where it likewise soon falls a prey to birds and starving dogs.[15] Elsewhere, he characterized the burial of children as a “systematic throwing away.” He lamented, “Countless are the babes that, closed in urns or wooden boxes, are abandoned in the open country and so given a prey to ravens, dogs and swine, or to quick dissolution under the operation of weather and vermin.”[16] De Groot’s observations are corroborated in Chinese language sources and suggest that burial practices in the Qing conformed to broader patterns of infant burial worldwide. Indeed, the anthropologist David Lancy has argued that because of their liminality and incompleteness, “babies aren’t persons,” observing that in many civilizations around the world, “burial rites and mourning may be minimal or actively discouraged in the case of a child younger than five years, or even as late as ten.”[17] What is interesting about perfunctory burial or abandonment—what I will call corpse “exposure”—is that there is evidence that this was one of the preferred ways to dispose of infant corpses in Qing China, at least among the poorer classes. During the Yongzheng reign, the head of the department of Shuozhou 朔州, Shanxi, Wang Sisheng 汪嗣聖, issued a proclamation prohibiting the people in his jurisdiction from exposing the bodies of children who had died before the age of eight, suggesting they be buried instead. He opened his proclamation by arguing that burying infants reflects the way of Heaven and the natural affection between parents and children. “Parents celebrate upon birth,” wrote Wang, “and they bury upon death.” He then proceeded to quote the prescriptions contained in the Family Rituals described above, regarding the commemoration of early deaths. Recognizing, perhaps, that this text did not supply the necessary clarification he sought, he turned to one of the classics, the Liji 禮記, or Record of Rites. Wang wrote, As it is recorded in the “Tan Gong” [portion of the Liji]: The people of Zhou buried those who died between 16 and 19 in the coffins of Yin; those who died between 12 and 15 or between 8 and 11 in the brick enclosures of Xia; and those who died (still younger), for whom no mourning is worn, in the earthenware enclosures of the time of the lord of Yu.[18] Wang concluded, “Although the death of infants does not require the same mourning as adults, since the [custom] of preparing the coffin and returning it to the earth comes from previous generations, it should not be altered.”[19] Elsewhere in his proclamation, Wang again turned to the Liji to relate a story about Confucius, whose pet dog had recently died. Before instructing his student Zigong bury the dog, Confucius reportedly said, “I have heard that a worn-out curtain should not be thrown away, but may be used to bury a horse in; and that a worn-out umbrella should not be thrown away, but may be used to bury a dog in.” Wang continued, “Confucius’ dog died, [and he said]: ‘In putting the dog into the grave, you can use my mat; and do not let its head get buried in the earth.’ So when something we clutch to our bosoms suddenly dies, how can we allow it to be exposed in a way that does not match the level of care shown even dogs and horses?”[20] The problem, as Wang noted in his proclamation, was that “stupid people” (yumeng 愚氓) in his jurisdiction followed the “evil custom” of abandoning infant corpses in the wilds with neither a coffin nor a proper burial: “their skulls sucked to the howling of foxes, their bellies filled by the pecking of birds.” One of Wang’s colleagues, Liu Shiming 劉士銘, wrote about the same problem in a proclamation he issued in Shuoping Prefecture to “collect and bury the remains of infants.” Liu was the prefect within which Wang’s jurisdiction of Shuozhou was located, so the two undoubtedly communicated with one another about this issue. He wrote that he had heard about an “ugly practice” in the Shuo region. “Whenever a birth ends in the premature death of an infant,” Liu wrote, “regardless of whether it is male or female, it is always discarded in an open field, exposed to the wind and sun, and entrusted to the dogs and wolves to eat.”[21] It was this last eventuality that many writers clearly found to be most worrisome. The revulsion Ji Shilin 姬士麟, an official who was from Gaoping 高平 County, Shanxi, felt at the possibility that one’s progeny would be consumed by wild beasts is unmistakable. In an essay he penned entitled “An Exhortation to Bury Infants,” Ji says that although infants have not yet grown into adults, they are alive, and they are the “bones and blood” (guxue 骨血) of their parents. Likewise, the bones and blood of the parents have been transmitted from the bones and blood of their ancestors. Ji cries, “Do you really want your own bones and blood to be buried in the bellies of beasts and birds? What sorrow! Your body, hair, and skin were all received from your parents, so you dare not do them harm. As for harming them, is it not unfilial to take the bones and blood of your ancestors and bury them in the bellies of beasts and birds? What cruelty!”[22] The use of animals as rhetorical devices appears elsewhere in East Asian discussions of dead children. In his work on Japanese infanticide, Fabian Drixler has argued that animals frequently served as “moral guideposts” in literature denouncing infanticide: “Animals played a useful multivalent role in the effort of the propagandists; indicating on the one hand the natural order of things, they could also remind humans that they were obliged to do better than beings that occupied a lower rung of existence.”[23] We see something similar here, as dogs appear both as worthy objects of burial (in the case of Confucius) yet unworthy destinations for burial (in the case of infant exposure). Likewise, animals are invoked, paradoxically, as possessing an innate supra-human desire to care for their young, while at the same time being represented as the height of beastliness. As an official from Zhaocheng 趙城, Shanxi, wrote in an essay against infant exposure, “Record of Burying the Early Dead” 埋殤記, How in the world could heavenly principles be corrupted and the human heart be forsaken like this? Even birds are able to feed their fledglings by mouth; and tigers and wolves do not eat their own young. But when my own flesh and bones encounters misfortune, cannot get better, and then reaches the point of death, it is cast out of the bosom to the sound of its own weeping. It is preposterous to say that those whom you have caressed and dearly loved—who now desire only to be enveloped in the grave—instead should fill the bellies of birds, foxes, dogs, and pigs.[24] The implication, of course, was that those who exposed children were themselves sub-bestial, less compassionate than even birds, tigers, and wolves. In these commentaries, the aural and gustatory senses played a key role in conjuring the inhumane. Writers asked the reader to picture himself, his immediate family, and his ancestors being eviscerated and consumed by wild animals, and to imagine the sucking, pecking, and gnawing that would necessarily accompany such a calamity. Life-Stealing Demons and Evil Spawn Even though these officials expressed in the most vivid terms their shock and horror with the practice, there were evidently quite a few “stupid people” who were exposing their infant dead. These official appeals reveal that, rather than being evidence of neglect, exposing corpses was an intentional burial strategy adopted by common people, especially in northern China. For instance, the gazetteer of Fenyang 汾陽 County, Shanxi, stated that infants were not buried because they were thought to damage the fengshui of ancestral tombs.[25] Ji Shilin, on the other hand, traces the practice of exposing infant corpses in Shanxi to two taboos that were apparently deeply entrenched in the area. One stipulated that burying an infant would make a couple infertile: There is a taboo that says if you bury an infant then you will never again have children in the future. Alas, this is how deep the stupidity is. As for burying a dead infant and never again giving birth, can it really be that an infant has the ability (ling 靈) to control whether its parents will not give birth, to the point that the joy of an infant is suppressed and brutal violence inflicted on its body? The other taboo stated that it was profane: “There is another taboo that says burying infants is ‘bu dang’ 不當. ‘Bu dang’ is a local expression. It means that one has offended the gods and spirits.”[26] People ostensibly exposed infants in order to minimize the negative influences that flowed to the household. Indeed, many reports about infant exposure emphasized the deeply held belief that exposing infants would convey benefits to either the dead child or its family. Wang Sisheng suggested that people in his area (Shuozhou, Shanxi) exposed corpses because they believed that dead infants, if left unburied, went straight to paradise: “The local people’s idiotic reasoning is that [they think] upon death [the infant] goes immediately to heaven, while avoiding a descent into the underworld. I do not know who fabricated this theory or when it began, but generations have tried to eliminate it without success because the delusion is so deep.”[27] Many of their concerns reportedly revolved around reincarnation. People were either concerned that their dead offspring would not be reincarnated, or reincarnated in an undesirable location—specifically, back to the family whence they came. For example, according to the "local customs” (fengsu 風俗) section of the Yongping 永平 prefectural gazetteer, parents did not fear the loss of a child as much as they did the prospect that it might linger after death: There are no parents that do not cherish their children, from nurturing them at birth to mourning them at death. Yet it is a Yongping custom that when children die in infancy (yaoshang 夭殤), [parents] give no thought to accumulating merit and waiting for the next birth. They do not lay them out in coffins, but rather discard and expose [their corpses]. They are so worried that [the children] will be reincarnated back to the mother’s womb (futou mutai 復投母胎) that in their excessive sorrow they become more merciless than even jackals and tigers. The late Prefect Zhang Chaocong 張朝琮 [fl. 1707] issued a notice prohibiting this custom in order to reduce its prevalence. Those who have the responsibility of protecting newborns should follow suit in order to eradicate [the custom] permanently. This is the meaning of showing kindness to the dead (zeji kugu zhi yi 澤及枯骨之意).[28] As this passage suggests, the reason that infant corpses were exposed was precisely so the child would not remain in the family. Exposure was a method that ensured that once a child died, the family would be rid of it forever. Indeed, what parents seemed to fear most was the “return” or “coming back” (fulai 復來, zailai 再來) of a dead child. The reasons for this were twofold. On the one hand, dead children who “came back” were thought to be short-lived, bringing back with them whatever ailment had led to their deaths in the first place, which imperiled a family’s fertility. On the other hand, the returned child would pose a threat to the family if it sought to harm it in some way. The same official in Zhaocheng, Shanxi, mentioned above wrote about these anxieties: One time when I was out riding alone outside the east gate, I went into a walled village and saw an old mother clutching a cloth bag. In a panic, she ran out of a small grove of trees. I grilled her about what she was doing, but she didn’t respond. My squire told me that this was a dead child, which she intended to discard in a ditch. I despondently said, “The children die and they’re thrown into ditches!?” Apparently, Shanxi has a custom where children under the age of six and seven sui, no matter how they fall ill and die, are all abandoned because [parents] are afraid that they will immediately “come back” (fulai 復來).[29] It is not evident in this particular account what was meant by the term “coming back,” but this was a phrase that was used in one form or another in multiple sources from northern China. From these texts, it becomes clear that coming back referred to visitations of one kind or another, where the dead infant returned to the household to cause the death of a subsequent child, or to exact revenge on the family. The “local customs” section of the Wuyang 舞陽 County, Henan, gazetteer explained the phenomenon in the following way: When children die young, it is appropriate to bury them and return their bodies to the soil. This is the desire of parents. Yet there is a category of stupid people who give birth to a boy or a girl, and when it gets sick and dies, they call it a “life-stealing demon” (toushenggui 偷生鬼). They take its corpse and cruelly discard it on the outskirts of town to fill the bellies of wolves and dogs. It is said that by doing this they can prevent [the child] from coming back (zailai) in another pregnancy. Moreover, when a firstborn son or daughter falls ill and dies, they must be discarded and not buried. It is said that by doing so later births will enjoy a long life. To harbor these kinds of intentions truly is barbaric.[30] The phrase “life-stealing demon” appears to be a local expression in Henan Province for the returned infant. The gazetteer from Yiyang 伊陽 County, Henan, states, “According to custom, all boys and girls who die between the ages of birth and six or seven sui are called ‘life-stealing demons’ (toushenggui), and there is a fear that once they have died, they will come back (fulai). So, they are bundled in reed mats and laid in a ditch for the birds, jackals, and dogs to cruelly eat.”[31] A similar phenomenon is expressed in a slightly different way in sources from Shaanxi, which report that dead infants were feared to be “evil spawn” (niezhong 孽種) whose powers could be neutralized though exposure. In a proclamation to ban the exposure of children, Wang Chongli 王崇禮 (fl. 1750), the magistrate of Yanchang 延長 County, Shaanxi, wrote: When considering the birth of boys and girls, who does not hope that they mature completely? But if their lot in life is bad or they die early, this is not their fault. After inquiring, I discovered that the common people of Yanchang are confused about the doctrine of reincarnation. They say that when a child (xiao’er 小兒) dies, it is an evil spawn (niezhong 孽種). If the child is not deposited in a deep ditch, it causes the child to decay prematurely, so it will be reincarnated back again (bi zailai toutai 必再來投胎), whereupon the parents will suffer harm.[32] The American Presbyterian Missionary Michael Simpson Culbertson encountered similar ideas in Ningbo, where he was stationed in the mid-nineteenth century. Culbertson details some of the measures parents took to protect themselves upon the death of a child, including setting off fireworks in the home and hiring a Daoist exorcist to “sweep away” its evil spirit. According to Culbertson, it was believed that when a child died, it indicated that the child was actually a spirit that had been born to the parents to seek revenge for some past injustice. Culbertson explained, “It was for some such purpose as this that the child came into this world, and quartered itself upon the parents, subjecting them to much trouble and expense, and then leaving them before reaching an age at which its services could, in any measure, repay them for their pains. This is the view taken, when a child dies under the age of sixteen, and the fear is that it may again be born, for a similar purpose, as the child of the same parents.” The Qing official and author, Ji Yun 紀昀 (1724–1805), who hailed from Xian 獻 County, Hebei Province, claimed these children were the product of wandering ghosts: “Exceptionally, there may be stray souls who attach themselves to women who become pregnant: This is called ‘stealing life.’”[33] According to these descriptions, wild animals played a crucial role in eliminating the possibility that a child might return. The sources do not say precisely how or why this happened, but it may have had something to do with the dismemberment and consumption that naturally accompanied exposure. For example, Wang Qingren 王清任 (1768–1831), a Qing dynasty physician, was traveling through Luanzhou 滦州 Prefecture, Zhili, during an epidemic that killed “eight or nine out of every ten children.” Wang wrote, “Poor families mostly used substitution mats to wrap and bury [the dead]. Substitution mats are mats that replace coffins. It was the local custom to bury shallowly, with the intention that dogs would eat [the bodies. This would] have the benefit [of ensuring] the next child did not die (更不深埋,意在犬食, 利於下胎不死). Because of this, every day in each charitable graveyard, there were over a hundred children with torn abdomens exposing their viscera.”[34] According to Wang’s testimony, consumption by animals played a key role in preventing children from returning to the family. The likely explanation is that consumption destroyed the somatic integrity of the corpse, which prevented successful reincarnation. In the popular Buddhist imagination, the dead body “could not enter purgatory and go through the process of paying off his karmic debt that would allow his rebirth if his body were in pieces.”[35] Thus, the disarticulated infant corpse was stranded in an existential no-man’s land. Parents could also mutilate an infant’s corpse to thwart its return. The biography of Wang Qingliang 王清亮 in the Qingpu 青浦 County gazetteer describes his time an assistant magistrate (dianshi 典史) in Nanyang 南陽 County, Henan, during the nineteenth century and his response to the local custom of infant exposure: Nanyang has a custom that as soon as a child (youhai 幼孩) dies the parents take a knife and hack it up (zhuozhi 斫之). It is said they fear it will come again to demand retribution (suozhai 索債). Qingliang requested that the magistrate strictly prohibit this custom, so the corpses of discarded children were collected and placed in a cemetery for burial.[36] We read something similar in the writings of Ji Shilin (Gaoping, Shanxi) discussed above, where he says that some parents who had suffered through the deaths of multiple children would mutilate their children before laying them out: “Because their boys and girls do not survive, we see some people who repeatedly have births and deaths. They cut off [the child’s] ear or sever a finger because they believe that [if they do], this child will not come again (zailai 再來), but will be reincarnated, and the next birth will live.”[37] Henrietta Harrison has written that infants in southern Shanxi were mutilated, or marked with soot and ink, so they could be identified by parents if they were ever to return later.[38] A more likely explanation is that mutilation served an exorcistic purpose, as the malignant spirit was violently expelled from the household. Donald Harper has detailed similarly violent practices in early China to dispel evil newborn spirits, and we have evidence that such practices persisted into the late twentieth century in Taiwan.[39] Making Place for the Infant Dead Needless to say, there was a difference of opinion as to whether or how dead babies should be buried. Many elites, such as those who compiled or contributed to local gazetteers, favored some form of interment for infant corpses. Other people, likely at the opposite end of the socioeconomic spectrum, appear to have favored either shallow burial or no burial at all. Not surprisingly, officials used their position in society to lobby strenuously to persuade people to bury their young. They did this not only by writing proclamations and essays of the type discussed above, but also by provided spaces for child corpses to be placed. Many of the officials discussed earlier promoted concrete measures to assist in the burial of the young. The most daunting obstacle, argued Liu Shiming, was that people could not be expected to bury their young if they had no money for coffins or land for gravesites. As a result, he reported that his prefecture (Shuoping) set aside land and provided coffins expressly for this purpose.[40] Burial efforts became a deeply personal campaign for some. For example, Ji Shilin described a visit to Pingyang 平陽, Shanxi, where as he traveled on the road, he saw hillsides dotted with little painted holes. He asked a local what they were, and was told they were places to bury wooden coffins that held the remains of infants. Ji was so inspired by this sight that he committed himself to making “several ten” coffins a year—“three chi long, no more than five fen thick, with small nails on all four sides”—that he would store in a public place so people could use them “without paying, without leaving their names, and without registering their households.” He encouraged all “benevolent gentlemen” to do the same.[41] That Qing officials engaged in efforts of this kind comes as no surprise. From very early in Chinese history, officials and elites were encouraged to care for the public dead, and doing so enabled them to enact longstanding models of good governance, earn merit, and assert and justify their status in local society. For example, the Liji states that in the first month of spring, “Skeletons should be covered up, and bones with the flesh attached to them buried.”[42] Later generations of officials understood the collection and interment of exposed bones, upon which seasonal weather depended, as one of the key functions of government, and failure to do so was seen as a lapse of administration and one of the primary causes of drought.[43] During the late Ming dynasty, elites regularly provided land and coffins for abandoned corpses that belonged to poor families, or nobody at all.[44] This form of philanthropy appears to have accelerated during the Qing dynasty, as scholars such as Angela Leung have shown, but the imperative to do so was quite old.[45] What was new was the increasing attention that burying children received as well as the particular forms this burial took. As early as the late seventeenth century, officials may have initiated burial efforts. For example, in 1689 Magistrate Hua Bin 滑彬 in Huixian County, Hebei, prohibited the exposure of infants and may have established a charitable graveyard for children, although this last point is unclear. Similar efforts were undertaken by an official named Wang Tiyuan 王體元 (fl. 1700), who penned an essay entitled “Advocating the Burial of Infants,” which discussed the problem of infant exposure in his native place of Pucheng 蒲城, Shaanxi. The essay was reportedly inscribed into a stone stele, but the text has since been lost. The earliest organized campaign to collect and bury infant corpses that I can find appears in 1706 (Kangxi 45). In that year, Fan Guangxi 范光曦 the magistrate of Linyou 麟遊 County, Shaanxi, submitted a memorial to his superiors, asking them to issue proclamations prohibiting the “Shaanxi custom” of exposing and abandoning infant corpses. Fan was moved by the same concerns mentioned above—exposure to the elements, qualms about corpses being eaten by animals, and so forth. In the end, he was able to persuade a host of other officials in Shaanxi to issue orders prohibiting corpse abandonment and ordering the burial of dead children in their jurisdictions, including the governor-general of Chuan-Shaan, Boji 愽濟; the Shaanxi governor, Ehai 鄂海; the lieutenant governor, Eluo 鄂洛; and the grain and salt intendant, Fu Zeyuan 傅澤淵.[46] Prior to this episode, child corpses simply did not receive as much attention in local histories. As we move into through the eighteenth century, other officials, especially in the northern provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi, Zhili, and Shandong, initiated their own campaigns to bury dead children. We have already heard about the efforts of Zhang Chaocong in Yongping Prefecture (ca. 1707); but we also see burial campaigns in Fenyang 汾陽 County, Shanxi (ca. 1710), and Shuozhou and Shuoping (ca. 1730) early in the eighteenth century. This does not mean, of course, that infant corpses were not gathered during earlier periods as part of long-standing bone-collecting efforts, but I can find no evidence that infants existed as a special category of corpse in need of extraordinary protections prior to the early eighteenth century. A trend like this is admittedly difficult to quantify. Because we have more extant gazetteers from later periods, we naturally will find more references to infant burial the later we look. Thus, any conclusions about this pattern should be approached with caution. However, the evolution appears to be unmistakable. The consideration paid to child corpses can be seen in the subsequent push in the mid-eighteenth century by Qing officials to establish “charitable graveyards” (yizhong 義塚) dedicated explicitly to the interment of infants. Donating burial land for the poor had long been a cornerstone of elite philanthropic activity, but efforts to establish separate burial grounds for children appear to have been rare before the Kangxi reign. The three Shanxi officials discussed earlier—Wang Sisheng, Liu Shiming, and Ji Shilin—all supported the creation of dedicated spaces for burying the young. Similar measures took place elsewhere in Shanxi. For example, Wang Chang 王錩 (fl. 1745), who served as magistrate of Xiaoyi 孝義 County, Shanxi, during the mid-Qianlong period, was moved by the bodies of dead children that lined the county’s roads. To combat this practice, he ordered that bricks be used to create cavities in the outer walls of the city, on both the north and south sides of the city. He then ordered that dead infants be placed in them, and he strictly forbade the discarding of infant corpses.[47] Similarly, Zhang Sijiong 張思炯 (fl. 1765) was appointed magistrate of Ningwu 寧武 County, Shanxi, where he attacked the custom of not burying the dead. He purchased a plot of land to erect a “white bone tower” in which exposed corpses of adults could be stored; he also “purchased land to bury the prematurely dead, which was known locally as ‘the infant cemetery’ (ying’er zhong 嬰兒塚).”[48] Organized efforts to bury infants seem to have become fairly common by the Qianlong period, at least in the northern provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi, and by the beginning of the nineteenth century, they appear elsewhere, especially in the Lower Yangzi region. They were common enough in the north by the 1820s that Cui Xu 崔旭, who had recently been appointed magistrate of Pu 蒲 County, Shanxi, could write about his own desire to establish a burial ground for children: “I have heard that all other counties have an infant cemetery—one name [for them] is the ‘building for depositing children’ jizilou 寄子樓—to collect and store the corpses of infants, which have been erected through the good work of sincere and benevolent gentlemen. My jurisdiction is the only one without such a building. I have long wanted to construct one, but have not had the ability.”[49] By the early nineteenth century, similar sentiments begin to appear frequently in local histories. Dedicated infant burial spaces later multiplied along with the proliferation of benevolent societies in the nineteenth century.[50] The origins and evolution of the infant burial movement can be visualized on the accompanying map. By executing targeted searches for terms related to infant burial in large databases such as the Zhongguo fangzhi ku 中國方志庫, we can plot the movement of civic infant burial activities from their beginnings in northern China through their spread into the central and southern parts of the empire. We can see the movement of different kinds of infant burial activities and infant cemeteries before 1796. It is notable that all of the references prior to 1796 appear in northern China. We can then see how these burial activities shift southward in the post-Qianlong period. Perhaps one of the most interesting discoveries concerns the lack of correspondence between infant burial and philanthropic institutions, at least early on. By overlaying a map of Qing charitable institutions, which was produced by Wang Daxue and his colleagues at Fudan University, we can see that early infant burial efforts originated in places such as Shanxi, which really had no charitable institutions to speak of. This is somewhat unexpected, since we might assume a close connection between infant burial and elite philanthropy. A closer correspondence emerges, however, when we overlay a map of “busy counties” (chongxian 沖縣) circa 1820 produced by William Skinner. These are counties that served as the empire’s key administrative and transportation hubs. In this case, the correspondence between infant burial and busy counties in the north is particularly striking. In explaining these trends, my hypothesis is that infant burial efforts were initiated by Qing officials and later picked up by philanthropic elites in other parts of the empire. Tomb and Tower The history of baby towers needs to be understood in the context of this broader shift toward infant burial during the Qing, but it also needs to be seen as an extension of the use of “bone towers” (guta 骨塔) as receptacles for the dead. Bone towers have a rich history in China, dating back at least to the arrival of Buddhism during the first centuries of the Common Era. The term “tower,” ta 塔, was an abbreviation of zutapo 卒塔婆, the Chinese transliteration of the word stupa. Over the centuries, in the Chinese context ta has come to denote any kind of raised structure that often, but not always, housed human remains of some kind.[51] In other words, it is a general term that does not necessarily specify what kinds of remains it contains, or whether it contains human remains at all. As a result, prefixes and context are especially important in determining what kind of tower it is. Bone towers typically served a commemorative purpose of some kind, and they could house the remains of either a single person or many people. The naming practices of bone towers in late imperial China were relatively unsystematic. A perusal of local gazetteers reveals many types of “bone towers” including those for Buddhas, eminent monks, and ordinary people. One of the most important categories was the baiguta 白骨塔—literally “white bone towers”—that were built to house the bleached bones of the abandoned dead. There are hundreds of references to these kinds of towers in local gazetteers from around the empire. Gazetteer entries typically describe when the tower was built and where it was located; they often also include the names of donors who funded the tower. Less common, however, are descriptions of what the towers actually contained. If information is included, it typically says something to the effect that the tower was erected “to collect and store exposed remains” (shoucang puhai 收藏暴骸). Most often this meant the abandoned dead; corpses that accumulated after a war, famine, or epidemic; or “unclaimed” (wuzhu 無主) bodies. What is less clear is whether they included the bodies of children, although one has to assume they did. Another universal name for bone towers was yita 義塔, or “charitable towers.” From what I can tell, most of the structures that were called yita were also used to hold the bones of the abandoned dead, although there were some that were dedicated to children. The description of an yita in the Tongzhi era gazetteer from Badong 巴東 County, Hubei, is typical in this regard: “The yita is in Niukou 牛口, 25 li from the northern boundary of the county. In 1760 (Qianlong 25), local residents Zhang Kaizhe 張楷浙 and Shen Shengzhao 沈聖昭 provided donations to build [the tower] to gather exposed bones (baigu 白骨). They also provided one hillside plot at Zhujiadian 朱家店 and built a stone coffin with 360 apertures to bury corpses found floating in the river after being discarded in the torrent.”[52] The structures that eventually became known in Western writings as baby towers emerged out of this context. The first observation we can make about “baby towers” is that there really was no such thing, for no other reason than there was little agreement about what to call these structures, and few of them had names that so obviously revealed their contents. Thus, local gazetteers in the Qing include a few instances of yinghaita 嬰骸塔 (“infant skeleton towers”)[53] and ying’er guta 嬰兒骨塔 (“infant bone towers”), which almost certainly were used as receptacles for the infant dead.[54] Cui Xu, who was discussed earlier, uses the term jizilou to describe some kind of building or tower to house infant remains, and De Groot also mentions the term hai’er guisuo 孩兒歸所 (“place of resort for children”) used in this context.[55] We also have a cryptic reference to a guhun youta 孤魂幼塔 (“tower for the orphaned souls of children”), but the gazetteer does not indicate whether the tower actually held human remains or, more likely, whether it was simply a shrine.[56] One of the most common names used for receptacles devoted to housing infant remains was jiguta 積骨塔, or “tower for storing up bones.” In fact, the Shanghai burial towers mentioned in so many writings by Westerners, including those that opened this essay, were referred to in Chinese as the jiguta. In the same way that structures such as baiguta and yita could house remains of all kinds, jiguta also could be used for various purposes. As a result, we cannot assume that when jiguta are mentioned in local gazetteers they were used solely to house infant remains, but there is evidence to suggest that many of them were. As with the charitable graveyards discussed earlier, infant burial towers were a product of official and elite activism. The Shanghai County gazetteer mentions the creation of jiguta, along with other charitable activities such as building bridges, establishing shrines for the worthy, providing coffins for the poor, donating medicines, and so forth.[57] Similarly, they were built in order to protect corpses from the ravages of animals and the elements. The Jiashan 嘉善 County gazetteer states: “Every time that corpses and coffins were abandoned around the city, they were exposed to the wind and rain, eaten by dogs, and pecked by birds—it was heart-breaking to see. On Grave-Sweeping Day and at the end of the year, local worthies Zhu Juxi 朱菊溪 and Wu Linpu 吳臨浦 paid workers to bury [the bodies] in the grave for abandoned corpses, the jiguta, and the charitable graveyard.”[58] Eager philanthropists not only donated money and land to build these structures, they also contributed funds to provide for their upkeep. In Xinfeng 新豐 Township, Zhejiang, local elites gave land and money to build three jiguta in 1805—one for men, one for women, and one for children. Several local pawnshops provided six thousand yuan each year to manage the towers, and they paid annual operating costs to conduct seasonal charity work on its behalf. Each autumn, they paid to have Buddhist water and land rites performed for the dead; in the winter they paid to have unclaimed and exposed corpses gathered and placed in the towers.[59] Figure 5. Baby Tower in Zhejiang. China’s Millions (June 1903), 76. There are several preliminary observations we can make about infant burial towers. First, these structures appear to have been relatively recent, historically speaking. We have two references to jiguta built in the early eighteenth century in Songjiang 松江 Prefecture, but there is no solid evidence that either tower was dedicated to house the corpses of children. We also have one reference to an infant burial tower in Xugou 徐溝 County, Shanxi, that dates from the Qianlong period. All of the other references I have found thus far date from the nineteenth century. This does not mean, of course, that earlier references cannot be found. However, the chronological distribution would seem to suggest that the construction of infant burial towers was a later historical development. Second, infant burial towers appear to have been rare. After performing an exhaustive search in electronic databases such as the Zhongguo fangzhi ku, which currently includes four thousand pre-1949 local gazetteers, I can find fewer than two dozen references to these structures. So, on the face of it, the infant burial tower does not appear to be a universal fixture of the Chinese deathscape. That said, there are more than six thousand extant gazetteers that are not yet included in this database, which makes it entirely plausible that more references exist. It is also possible that these structures were so common as to not warrant mention in the sources at all. Earlier, we read the comments of Cui Xu, magistrate of Pu County, Shanxi, who remarked, “I have heard that all other counties have an infant cemetery—one name [for them] is the ‘building for depositing children’ jizilou 寄子樓—to collect and store the corpses of infants, which have been erected through the good work of sincere and benevolent gentlemen. My jurisdiction is the only one without such a building.” If reliable, statements such as these would suggest that receptacles of one kind or another (see below) might have been far more widespread than the sources indicate. While Cui might have had reason to exaggerate his infant burial efforts, it is uncertain how he might benefit from confessing that he is a latecomer to the infant burial movement. So, although infant burial towers appear to have been rare, this conclusion should be approached with caution. Third, the infant burial tower appears much more frequently in sources from the Lower Yangzi region. The overwhelming majority of references we have come from a very small region in and around Shanghai: Songjiang Prefecture in Jiangsu Province (Shanghai County, Qingpu County, Jinshan 金山 County, and Nanhui 南匯 County) and Jiaxing Prefecture in Zhejiang Province (Jiashan County, Pinghu 平湖 County, and Xinfeng Township). It is important to note that some of these communities had multiple jiguta—Pinghu County in Jiaxing had six! Thus, if we were to rely solely on gazetteer data, the evidence would suggest that infant burial towers were predominantly a regional phenomenon. That said, there are several caveats related to geographic distribution that are in order. First, local gazetteers from the Jiangnan region are more plentiful, which could easily skew the data toward that part of the empire, especially when the total number of towers is so low. In other words, there might be more references to infant burial towers from that region, simply because there are more extant gazetteers from that region. A second issue relates to architectural style. Broadly speaking, infant burial receptacles appear to have built according to at least two different styles during the Qing dynasty. When foreigners commented on baby towers, they usually referred to stand-alone structures of the kind that we see in Figures 5 and 6. In many cases, these buildings were quite elaborate. They were tall buildings with fine stonework and relatively ornate roofs, erected in visible exurban locations. These were the buildings that figured prominently in Jiangnan gazetteers. Figure 6. Baby Tower 13B-127, Sichuan, ca. 1917. Sydney D. Gamble Photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Reused by permission. However, a second style of building appears to have been more common elsewhere. Some northern sources talk about infant burial receptacles as “pits” or “holes,” and they appear to have been built expressly to blend into the urban environment. As J. J. M. de Groot attested: In many parts of the Empire we saw filled infant boxes in profusion along city-walls, the lid fixed on by means of frail willow withes or hempen strings. In the chief city of the department of Tsüen-cheu [Junzhou 均州, Hubei?] some large square projectures from the city-walls are generally used by the people as receptacles to throw their dead children into. These curious brick structures, if seen from the outside of the walls, look like salient crenellated bastions, but in reality they are square chambers, quite open at the top, which, having no apertures whatever in the four sides, are only accessible from above by means of ladders.[60] This sounds remarkably similar to the example we saw earlier with magistrate Wang Chang in Xiaoyi County, Shanxi, who during the Qianlong reign built two receptacles for infants in the city walls. This is not to say that city wall burial sites cannot be found in other locations. In fact, the two styles of tower almost certainly appeared side by side throughout the empire. We have photographic evidence of a “tower” (ta 塔) in Ningbo that was squat and appears to have been built into the city wall, albeit not exactly in the same way as De Groot described.[61] The point I would like to make here is that the style of tower might have been determined by sources of patronage, which may have had a bearing on how visible they were in local gazetteers. Many of the towers described in northern sources sound as if they were built in a simpler, less conspicuous style, as suggested above. They also appear to have been built primarily by officials as public works projects. Many of the infant burial towers in the south, on the other hand, appear almost monumental by comparison. And, of course, they were monuments—monuments to the generosity of the men who commissioned them. The durability and architectural prominence of more elaborate towers undoubtedly made them a more attractive investment for discriminating donors. It seems reasonable to infer that these towers were more likely to be documented for posterity in local gazetteers. The example of Shanghai is instructive because we know there were multiple infant burial towers in the area—low-lying ones, as well as towers, but the latter attracted far more attention from foreigners. To be sure, there were other reasons towers may have been preferred in the Lower Yangzi region. It might have had something to do with the weather, since finding underground receptacles to contain the dead in the wet southern climate of Jiangnan may have been more difficult than in the north. Indeed, according to Christian Henriot, the infiltration of subsurface water into graves led to a proliferation of unburied coffins in the Shanghai region, and “it was inconceivable to bury one’s dead in such inauspicious conditions.”[62] Nevertheless, in the impassioned charitable economy of nineteenth-century Jiangnan, stand-alone towers may simply have been a more desirable locus for philanthropically minded elites—and thus a more worthy topic of discussion for those same elites—than they were in other parts of the empire. Toward a History of Infant Burial The discussion thus far would suggest that there was a dramatic shift in attitude toward the infant corpse in the late imperial period. How do we explain this change? There are a few of explanations I find plausible. The first concerns shifting elite attitudes toward the physical body and anxieties about interment that we see in many of the writings about infant burial. Although common people in the eighteenth century routinely exposed their infant dead expecting they would be consumed by wild animals, the same cannot be said for many officials. In virtually all of these texts, officials express in graphic language their horror that the body parts of children are strewn across the landscape, exposed to the elements, to suffer the munch and crunch of wild animals. In this regard, the prospect that child remains are essentially becoming part of the local food chain suggests heightened anxieties about properly preserving and commemorating human remains. We know from the work of Norman Kutcher that unburied corpses were a growing concern for the Qianlong court. Adult encoffined bodies that were either buried temporarily (fucuo 浮厝) or left for decades exposed to the elements came under fire in the 1740s by officials such as Chen Hongmou 陳弘謀, who considered delayed burial, especially among elite families, to be a serious problem.[63] These anxieties may have been exacerbated by discussions surrounding cremation during the Qianlong reign. Jurchens and Manchus had traditionally practiced cremation, but this began to change after the Qing dynasty was established and bannermen were encouraged to follow the Chinese practice of interring bodies of the dead. Mark Elliott relates the story of Arigūn, the garrison general at Qingzhou, who advocated cremating the bodies of bannermen who died at their postings, in order to facilitate the delivery of their remains back to the capital. The general reasoned that cremated remains were more economical to store and transport than entire corpses, so cremating the bodies of dead bannermen would free up valuable garrison resources. Qianlong rejected this argument, stating that bodies should be buried according to “ancient” (i.e., Chinese) custom. Yet Elliott marshals evidence to suggest that cremation may have persisted well into the nineteenth century.[64] It is possible that the positive reception of infant burial efforts promoted by Fan Guangxi in Shaanxi in 1706 was somehow tied to similar concerns with the banners, since all three of the highest-ranking officials who issued their own orders to prohibit infant exposure and promote burial—Governor-General Boji, Shaanxi Governor Ehai, and Lieutenant Governor Eluo—were conspicuously Manchus. In other words, by the beginning of the eighteenth century, the state was reiterating on several fronts its commitment to burial as the only orthodox means of disposing of the dead, and it would make sense that infant burial would eventually become implicated in this discussion. No doubt, anxieties about the exposed body were exacerbated by the proliferation of corpses during the Qing, as population growth, urbanization, and rebellions increasingly led to a surplus of unruly bodies.[65] It is plausible that these fears contributed to a growing feeling that corpses—adults or infants—were symptoms of increasing social disorder that needed to be remedied. In light of this movement toward orthodoxy, efforts to reform infant burial, particularly official campaigns against exposing infant corpses, should also be understood as part of a long-standing Confucian polemic against Buddhism. As the discussion earlier indicated, parents very often justified exposing their infant dead by appealing to folk understandings of fertility and transmigration. As a result, it is plausible that the concern with reincarnation and much of the terminology surrounding the consumption of corpses by wild animals was inspired by folk Buddhist understandings of infant burial. As Liu Shufen has demonstrated, corpse exposure (lushizang 露屍葬) became a popular method of burial in northern China during the medieval period. Liu explains, “Many Buddhists appear to have been inspired by the example of the Śākyamuni Buddha, who in one of his previous incarnations offered his body to wild animals. Dāna of the dead was to be accomplished by offering one’s body to living creatures through exposure in rivers or forests.”[66] Indeed, much of the imagery that Liu says was employed by Buddhist monastics and lay people to extol the feeding of corpses to animals—replete with the evocative depictions of pecking, sucking, and gnawing—sounds strikingly similar to the descriptions of this practice by Qing officials. That officials also relied heavily on canonical Confucian texts in their campaigns to eliminate the practice suggests that infant burial had become a site in the larger ideological battle between Buddhists and Confucians. Although it is beyond the scope of this essay, there is a distinct possibility that the medieval practice of corpse exposure had become so deeply entrenched in northern China that it persisted well into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The movement toward infant burial also suggests a rise in sentimentality toward children as a whole and a corresponding sensitivity toward infant corpses in particular. Again, virtually all the lengthy discussions we have about why infants deserved to be buried speak extensively about the natural love or care that parents feel for their children. It was precisely the peculiar character of the parent-child attachment—a cosmic bond reflected in the principles of Heaven that were expressed in human relationships, as well as in the natural world more broadly—that militated against anonymous or indecorous burial. One of the more interesting prospects in thinking about this shift is the possibility that it may have arisen out of a growing concern for young girls in late imperial China. Hsiung Ping-chen talks in her work about the emergence of a “daughter-loving culture” in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties through which elite men increasingly expressed their affection for their living daughters, as well as their acute sorrow when their daughters died young.[67] Considering that the number of exposed infant remains would almost certainly have been disproportionately female, it would make sense that a growing concern for living girls would translate into concern for dead ones. The gazetteer from Yongping Prefecture, Zhili, records the efforts of Wang Ruizheng 王瑞徵 (fl. 1828), who in the early nineteenth century built a “charitable cemetery for burying infants.” Wang wrote about the customs in his hometown, saying that “it is common to see dead girls (nüyou 女幼) abandoned in the suburban wilds, where their corpses are exposed and cruelly consumed by wolves and dogs. People walking on the road cannot help but weep at this state of affairs and ask how parents could in the end could be so malicious.”[68] Wang later talks about why proper burial for both “sons and daughters” is so important, but it was clearly the plight of girls that made the deepest impression on him. Of course, burial was not the only field within which the social value of girls was changing. During the Qing, we see a range of elite philanthropic activities—a movement I would call “girlanthropy”—in which the young female body was singled out for reform: campaigns against infanticide, the establishment of foundling homes, campaigns against footbinding, and so forth. Clash of Civilizing Missions To bring this discussion full circle, it is worth noting that many of the same fears Chinese elites had about infant corpses map onto the concerns of Western visitors to China, albeit for different reasons. Much has been written about the profound shift in mourning and burial practices that took place in both Britain and the United States during the nineteenth century. Elites in both these countries were distressed by what they interpreted as a spate of infanticide and child abandonment at home. In Britain, the poor had difficulty burying stillborn infants after the passage of legislation that meant to ease crowding in urban cemeteries. As a result, a London coroner in 1855 remarked that he was finding an increasing number of dead babies in the streets.[69] The same thing was true in the United States, where “the status of foundlings reached crisis proportions. Baby desertion threatened to become an epidemic, particularly in cities, where despairing mothers could abandon their newborn more easily than in small towns. In New York City alone, for example, infanticide resulted each month in the discovery of 100 to 150 bodies in places such as empty barrels or the rivers.”[70] Both countries also witnessed rising concerns about “baby-farming,” a practice whereby women allegedly entrusted their newborns to paid “foster” care, which usually resulted in the mistreatment or death of the babies.[71] Thus, when foreign visitors commented on the association between so-called baby towers and infanticide during the mid-nineteenth century, they were in many ways participating in a discourse that began long before they even set foot in China. Apprehensions about traditional burial practices were a shared Anglo-American phenomenon, as well. In the early nineteenth century, British burial grounds were becoming extremely overcrowded. In the words of Lee Jackson, “The consequences, wherever demand exceeded supply, were decidedly unpleasant. Coffins were stacked one atop the other in 20-foot-deep shafts, the topmost mere inches from the surface. Putrefying bodies were frequently disturbed dismembered or destroyed to make room for newcomers. Disinterred bones, dropped by neglectful gravediggers, lay scattered amidst the tombstones; smashed coffins were sold to the poor for firewood.”[72] Observers also complained about the stench of the dead, which was increasingly implicated in public health concerns. Many Londoners were concerned that “miasma” produced by decomposing bodies was a medium for the spread of diseases such as cholera. Reputedly “unsanitary” traditional graveyards were eventually eclipsed by spacious new “garden cemeteries” that promised to be more soothing and salubrious than their predecessors.[73] Thus, this nineteenth-century desire for a burial solution that was both olfactorily and horticulturally pleasing set certain expectations for what a proper burial ground should be. And it was precisely these expectations that the infant burial towers of China did not fulfill. I hope it is now relatively clear what a more complete history of the baby tower might look like. What were called “baby towers” were actually a historically recent addition to the late imperial deathscape that could be found primarily in the area immediately surrounding Shanghai, the place in China where the foreign presence was arguably most pronounced. In many respects, they were a peculiar product of two overlapping concerns that had roots in different regions of the empire: campaigns to encourage infant burial that emerged in northern China in the early eighteenth century, combined with a preference for burial towers that were built by philanthropists in the Lower Yangzi region. In a pattern that followed colonial encounters elsewhere, such as debates over sati in India, many foreign visitors to China (mis)took what was a geographically circumscribed burial practice and applied it to the empire as a whole. In the process, baby towers became a touchstone for concerns about infanticide, childhood, gender, class, and death that connected audiences both in China and at home. Their existence, of course, could also be used to justify the continued presence of “benevolent” foreign agents who advanced their own “enlightened” social and political programs. One of the most delicious ironies of the baby tower phenomenon relates to what we might call the “clash of civilizing missions” these structures embodied. On the one hand, we had activist Chinese officials and elites who sought to reform what they considered to be the barbaric burial practices of the benighted masses. On the other hand, we had Western visitors who sought to reform what they considered to be the barbaric burial practices of the benighted Chinese elites. In both of these cases, the so-called “baby tower” shifted the ontological horizon of each, creating new possibilities for action and suggesting new programs to be pursued. Perhaps it is only fitting that in the Qingpu County gazetteer from 1934, a Chinese author—no doubt one of Shanghai’s emerging “modern” elites—would contemptuously describe the jiguta that still stood outside that city in a way that would have resonated with many of his Western predecessors: as a fetid, archaic testament to a past generation of misguided do-gooders.[74] Notes Source of image at the top of this essay: “A Baby Tomb in China.” Ballou’s Monthly Magazine (January-June 1870), 109. I would like to thank the scholars who so graciously provided feedback on this project at various stages, including Joanna Handlin-Smith, Ernest P. Young, Peter Carroll, Lee Haiyan, Marc Moskowitz, Fabian Drixler, Michael Chiang, and all of the participants at the “Digging Up the Chinese Dead” workshop at Harvard University in December 2015. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Dagmar Schäfer and the Chinese Local Gazetteers Project group at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin for all of their help. Without the use of MPI’s facilities and databases, as well as the generous technical assistance of Chen Shih-Pei and Che Qun, this project would not have been possible. Research funding for this project was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Faculty Growth and Development Committee at the College of Idaho. [1] According to Chinese rendering, a child is one sui old at birth and adds an additional sui at each lunar New Year. Consequently, a child who is born in the eleventh month of the lunar calendar would be two sui old, despite being only two months old by Western calculations. As a rule of thumb, a child of eight sui is approximately seven years old, or slightly younger. [2] Bayard Taylor, A Visit to India, China, and Japan in the Year 1853 (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1855), 323–324. [3] George Wingrove Cooke, China: Being ‘The Times’ Special Correspondent from China in the Years 1857–58 (London: G. Routledge, 1858), 99. [4] Mary Isabella Bryson, Child Life in Chinese Homes (London: Religious Tract Society, 1885), 17. [5] London and China Telegraph, January 11, 1869, 25. [6] Lynn Morgan, “Getting at Anthropology through Medical History: Notes on the Consumption of Chinese Embryos and Fetuses in the Western Imagination,” in Marcia C. Inhorn and Emily Wentzell, eds., Medical Anthropology at the Intersections: Histories, Activisms, and Futures (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 41–64. [7] One of the few sustained analyses of baby towers in the secondary literature—Michelle King’s Between Life and Death—is found in a monograph about infanticide, not burial practices. See Michelle King, Between Life and Death: Female Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century China (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014), especially chap. 3. [8] The concept of infancy in later imperial China was vague. Although some medical texts referred to infancy as the period of childhood from birth to around nineteen months, the term “infant” (ying’er) could refer to any child younger than seven sui for girls and eight sui for boys. I employ it in this more expansive sense, although I also use terms such as “child” or “young child” as necessary. See Charlotte Furth, “From Birth to Birth: The Growing Body in Chinese Medicine,” in Anne Behnke Kinney, ed., Chinese Views of Childhood (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1995), 180–181. [9] Tina Philips Johnson and Yi-Li Wu give an infant mortality figure in the early Republican period of 250–300 deaths per one thousand births. Mary Brown Bullock and Bridie Andrews, Medical Transitions in Twentieth-Century China (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014), 56. [10] Mark Elliott, Emperor Qianlong: Son of Heaven, Man of the World (New York: Longman, 2009), 47. [11] Yili zhengzhu 儀禮鄭注, Sibu beiyao ed., (Taipei: Chung Hwa Book Company, 1984), vol. 2, 11:14a. [12] Ibid. [13] Patricia Ebrey, Chu Hsi’s Family Rituals: A Twelfth-Century Manual for the Performance of Cappings, Weddings, Funerals, and Ancestral Rites (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), 95–96. [14] Susan Naquin, “Funerals in North China: Uniformity and Variation,” in James L. Watson and Evelyn S. Rawski, ed., Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 46. [15] J. J. M. de Groot, Religious System of China, Book 1 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1894), 1075. [16] Ibid., 1387. [17] David F. Lancy, “Babies Aren’t Persons: A Survey of Delayed Personhood,” in Hiltrud Otto and Heidi Keller, ed., Different Faces of Attachment: Cultural Variations on a Universal Human Need (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 87. [18] Chinese Text Project, “Tan Gong I 檀弓上”, verse 12, trans. James Legge. [19] Wang Sisheng, “Proclamation Prohibiting the Discarding of Infant Remains” 禁止拋棄嬰骸示, Shuozhou zhi 朔州志, (1735 ed.), j.12, 22b (ZFZK, 723). In this essay, I have referenced page numbers according to the pagination found in the Zhongguo fangzhi ku 中國方志庫 (hereafter ZFZK). [20] Ibid., j.12, 23a (ZFZK, 724), trans. James Legge, “Tan Gong II 檀弓下”, verse 203. [21] Liu Shiming, “Proclamation to Collect and Bury the Remains of Infants” 收埋嬰兒骸骨示, Shuozhou zhi 朔州志, (1735 ed.), j.12, 21b (ZFZK, 721). [22] Ji Shilin, “An Exhortation to Bury Infants 勸埋嬰兒說,” Xu Gaoping xianzhi (1880 ed.), j.15, 30b (ZFZK, 532). [23] Fabian Drixler, Mabiki: Infanticide and Population Growth in Eastern Japan, 1660–1950 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 139. [24] Zhaocheng xianzhi 趙城縣志 (1760 ed.), j.22, n.p. (ZKFK, 126). [25] Fenyang xianzhi 汾陽縣志 (1851 ed.), j.13, 48a (ZFZK, 1175). [26] Ji, “An Exhortation to Bury Infants,” j.15, 31a (ZFZK, 534). [27] Wang, “Proclamation Prohibiting the Discarding of Infant Remains,” j.12, 23a (ZFZK, 724). [28] Yongping fuzhi 永平府志 (1711 ed.), j.5, n.p. (ZFZK, 352). [29] Zhaocheng xianzhi 趙城縣志 (QL25 ed.), j.22, n.p. (ZKFK, 1266). [30] Wuyang xianzhi 舞陽縣志 (1835 ed.), j.6, 6b (ZFZK, 261). [31] Yiyang xianzhi 伊陽縣志 (1838 ed.), j.1, n.p. (ZFZK, 115). [32] Yanchang xianzhi 延長縣志 (undated Qianlong manuscript), n.p. (ZFZK, 303). [33] Michael Simpson Culbertson, Darkness in the Flowery Land (New York: Scribner, 1857), 167. See also the discussion of “resentful fetal souls” in Marjorie Topley, “Cosmic Antagonisms: A Mother-Child Syndrome,” in Arthur P. Wolf, ed., Religion and Ritual in Chinese Society (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1974), 246. See David E. Pollard, Real Life in China at the Height of Empire (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2014), 101. [34] Adapted from Wang Qingren, trans. by Yuhsin Chung, Herman Oving, and Simon Becker, Yi Lin Gai Cuo: Correcting the Errors in the Forest of Medicine (Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press, 2007), 7. I would like to thank Yi-Li Wu for bringing this source to my attention. [35] Timothy Brook, Jerome Bourgon, and Gregory Blue, Death by a Thousand Cuts (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 14–15. [36] Qingpu xianzhi 青浦縣志 (1878 ed.), j.20, 24b (ZFZK, 1323). [37] Ji, “An Exhortation to Bury Infants,” j.15, 31a (ZFZK, 534). [38] Henrietta Harrison shows that in addition to the mutilation of bodies, babies were also beaten in order to dissuade their spirits from returning. See Henrietta Harrison, “Penny for the Little Chinese: The French Holy Childhood Association in China, 1843–1951,” American Historical Review 13.1 (2008), 82. [39] Donald Harper, “Spellbinding,” in Donald Lopez Jr., ed., Chinese Religions in Practice (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 248–249. See also the discussion by Marc Moskowitz, The Haunting Fetus: Abortion, Sexuality, and the Spirit World in Taiwan (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2001), 164. [40] Liu, “Proclamation to Collect and Bury the Remains of Infants,” j.12, 22a (ZFZK, 722). [41] Ji, “An Exhortation to Bury Infants,” j.15, 32a (ZFZK, 536). [42] Chinese Text Project, “Yue Ling 月令,” verse 7, trans. James Legge. [43] Jeff Snyder-Reinke, Dry Spells: State Rainmaking and Local Governance in Late Imperial China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center), chap. 2. [44] Joanna Handlin Smith, The Art of Doing Good: Charity in Late Ming China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 221–222. [45] Liang Qizi, Shishan yu jiaohua: Ming Qing de cishan zhuzhi 施善与教化: 明清的慈善组织 (Shijiazhuang, Hebei: Hebei jiaoyu chubanshe), 278-306. [46] Linyou xianzhi 麟遊縣志 (1708 ed.), j.3:33, 3a–5a (ZFZK, 124-128). [47] The gazetteer also states, “Although many people now know they should bury, they [still] do not deposit [children] in the cavities.” Xiaoyi xianzhi 孝義縣志 (1770 ed.), j.1, 14a (ZFZK, 316). [48] Ningxiang xianzhi 寧鄉縣志 (1941 ed.), 先民傳二十四, 清, 5b (ZFZK, 2574). [49] Cui Xu, “Draft for Establishing Infant Cemeteries 擬立嬰兒冢文” Yongji xianzhi 永濟縣志 (1886 ed.), j.24, 42b-43a (ZFZK, 2105-2106). [50] The gazetteer from Jiangning 江寧 Prefecture in Nanjing, for example, records that the work of the Fellowship of Goodness Hall (Tongshantang 同善堂) “established a charitable cemetery for the burial of infants” and the Community Goodness Hall (Gongshantang 公善堂), which “buried infants in the drum tower.” Often these graveyards were attached to foundling homes, as well. See Xuzuan Jiangning fuzhi 續纂江寧府志 (1880 ed.), j.9.1, 26a (ZFZK, 1152). [51] See Charles Muller’s Digital Dictionary of Buddhism, “塔.” [52] Badong xianzhi (Guangxu ed.), j.16, n.p. (ZFZK, 216). [53] See, for example, Xugou xianzhi 徐溝縣志, j.4, 16a (ZFZK, 106), and the two towers in Hequ xianzhi 河曲縣志 (1872 ed.), j.6, 62b (ZFZK, 747). [54] Haining zhouzhi 海寧州志 (1922 ed.), j.6, n.p. (ZFZK, 738). [55] De Groot, Religious System of China, Book 1, 1388. [56] Fenghua xianzhi 奉化縣志 (1877 ed.), j.3, 26a (ZFZK, 205) [57] Shanghai xianzhi 上海縣志 (1918 ed.), j.2, n.p. (ZFZK, 199). [58] Chongxiu Jiashan xianzhi 重修嘉善縣志 (1892 ed.), j.5, n.p. (ZFZK, 406). [59] Fan Hongxiang 范洪祥, “Xinfeng’s Bone Burial Tower” 新豐瘞骨塔, Jiaxing gushi 嘉興故事. [60] De Groot, Religious System of China, Book 1, 1387. [61]See A "Baby Tower," Ningpo, c.1870. [62] Christian Henriot, Scythe and the City: A Social History of Death in Shanghai (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016), 146. [63] Norman Kutcher, Mourning in Late Imperial China: Filial Piety and the State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 144-148. [64] Mark Elliott, The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), 264. [65] Jeff Snyder-Reinke, “Afterlives of the Dead: Uncovering Graves and Mishandling Corpses in Nineteenth-Century China,” Frontiers of History in China 11.1 (2016): 1-20. [66] Liu Shufen, “Death and the Degeneration of Life: Exposure of the Corpse in Medieval Chinese Buddhism,” Journal of Chinese Religions 28.1 (2000): 6. [67] Hsiung Ping-chen, A Tender Voyage: Children and Childhood in Late Imperial China (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005), 195-204. [68] Yongping fuzhi 永平府志 (1879 ed.), j.43, n.p. (ZFZK, 3134). [69] Lee Jackson, Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight against Filth (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014), 132. [70] LeRoy Ashby, Endangered Children: Dependency, Neglect, and Abuse in American History (New York: Twayne, 1997), 34. See also Julie Miller, Abandoned: Foundlings in Nineteenth-Century New York City (New York: New York University Press, 2008). [71] See Ginger Frost, Victorian Childhoods (New York: Praeger, 2009), 157-158. [72] Jackson, Dirty Old London, 105. [73] For a useful overview of the emergence of garden cemeteries, see Sarah Tarlow, “Landscapes of Memory: The Nineteenth Century Garden Cemetery,” European Journal of Archaeology 3.2 (2000): 217-239. [74] Qingpu xian xuzhi 青浦縣續志 (1934 ed.), j.24, 6a (ZFZK, 849). When the Dead Go Marching In Cemetery Relocation and Grave Migration in Modern Shanghai Christian Henriot Aix-Marseille Université Essay DOI: 10.21627/2019cd/ch “When the first Frenchman came to settle there, it was almost deserted, populated only by marshes and graves. The miserable ‘French Quarter’ of that time has become today, in the heart of the immense metropolis of Shanghai, a magnificent city.”[1] This excerpt from the famous History of the French Concession in Shanghai by Maybon and Fredet provides a most suitable introduction to the issue of grave and cemetery relocation in modern Shanghai. To think about the fate of burial grounds over the past century (1830-1966) is to try to resurrect a landscape long gone, a space of death irrecoverably erased from the surface of the earth. This essay, however, is not about remembrance. It is about reimagining and reconstructing the imprint that death left behind in various ways and at different scales in the city. Nowadays, very few people in Shanghai can imagine what the city looked like in the mid-nineteenth century, a walled compound surrounded by graves and burial grounds. Even the institutions and the infrastructure of the Republican era up to 1949 are little known to historians. All the urban markers from that period, especially those that embodied funeral and burial practices, have disappeared. The establishment of foreign settlements in the city in the mid-nineteenth century set in motion a process that challenged the presence of the graves and burial grounds that surrounded Shanghai and redrew the landscape of death outside its walls. It was not so much the foreign settlements per se that created a problem for the preservation of graves and burial grounds as the process of rapid urbanization that accompanied the development of the settlements. With or without the foreign settlements, urbanization would have caused many, if not most burial grounds to be relocated, as most of them were low-status charity graveyards that could hardly defend themselves against urban encroachment. Urbanization continued to squeeze cemeteries out of the city, except for the more resilient and better protected foreign or guild cemeteries. In the 1950s, however, the People’s Government launched a drastic policy to eliminate all funeral activities from urban areas and started to relocate all the cemeteries that had been established intra muros. Thereafter, the political frenzy of the Great Leap Forward, followed by the political turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, led to the destruction of many, if not most, cemeteries. There was no relocation of the graves. The places were simply ransacked and flattened. This essay provides a spatial analysis and reading of the fate of burial grounds and cemeteries in modern Shanghai. It contends that the combination of urban development (before 1949) and political decisions and movements led to the complete erasure of cemeteries in the city. While a few places were restored in the late 1980s–early 1990s, the handful of new cemeteries the Shanghai government authorized were in remote locations far from the city center and faced little risk of being caught up in Shanghai's urban sprawl. The experience of Shanghai both before and after 1949 clearly presages the process now at work in Chinese cities since the beginning of the reform era. A Diverse and Changing Landscape: From Burial Grounds to Cemeteries For centuries, the inhabitants of Shanghai buried their dead in the countryside, just outside the city walls. There was nothing akin to the church graveyards of European cities where people were buried, either under the church itself (in catacombs) or in the plot of land around it. Although sources occasionally mention family tombs within the city’s walls, this was exceptional. The norm was definitely to remove the dead from the space of the living. As discussed below, there were two main types of burial grounds: individual tombs, placed anywhere in the fields, and charity graveyards. The main burial grounds were owned by benevolent associations and guilds. Yet the land in the countryside was also densely populated, with numerous villages dotting the landscape. Villagers usually had a small burial ground, often related to a lineage, but many chose to bury their dead in individual graves in the middle of open fields, a location defined by a Taoist priest or a geomancer. The landscape of death, however, was much more complex due to the presence of tens of thousands of unburied coffins (ting guan bu zang 停棺不髒) all around the city. These two factors—the practice of burial extra muros for the urban population and the dense network of villages around Shanghai—produced a very particular geography, almost a topography, of death around the city. The first Western visitors were struck by the multitude of tombs that dotted the rural landscape. A column of soldiers that marched from Wusong, fourteen miles north of Shanghai, to the city in 1842 reported that "graves were in every field—mounds of earth, some hollowed into vaults, others with the coffin resting on the top, and covered with matting."[2] One century later, the Japanese and Chinese armies often made use of the tumuli formed by these rural tombs as defense works.[3] Of course, there is no way to know now how many and where these tombs were located. They are precisely the least documented form of burial as no authority formally regulated them until the 1930s, in a vain and failed attempt to induce peasants to bury their dead in cemeteries.[4] These tombs emerged from anonymity only when a decision was made to remove them by force, usually for the sake of military installations such as airfields. Thus, when the British, then the French and the Americans, were allotted a piece of land to establish their respective settlements, they did not find an empty land, a landscape of mud and marshes as the colonial story goes, but a land peppered with village communities and their tombs and graveyards. The British were a bit less concerned about the issue of graves on their territory. Their land was far north of the city wall, with a small river running along its southern border. The eastern section ran along the Huangpu River, a muddy and inauspicious land for burials. More importantly, there was no major graveyard, at least before the settlement was extended in 1899. While the Americans were in a very similar position, the French inherited the worst possible location, a narrow stretch of land between the city walls and the southern border of the British Settlement. This was an area filled with tombs, charity graveyards, and guild graveyards. From the beginning, the French officials made it their policy to systematically remove all the individual tombs and graveyards from their territory.[5] It is not an exaggeration to say that this bordered on an obsession which, in one case, led to violent confrontations with a major Chinese guild.[6] The treaties gave Westerners the right to have reserved territories for the sake of trade, first in five ports, then in a long string of port and inland cities. The peasants who owned land in the territories earmarked for a foreign settlement could not refuse to sell their land to whoever wanted to acquire it. Yet, careful consideration was given to the issue of tombs and graveyards. The Land Regulations that defined the rights and obligations of foreigners in each settlement, especially the conditions under which they could acquire land, placed restrictions for the protection of tombs and graveyards: “If there are graves or coffins on the land rented, their removal must be a matter of separate agreement, it being contrary to the custom of the Chinese to include them in the agreement or deed of sale.” Another article (XI) actually forbade unilateral action: “In no case shall the graves of Chinese on land rented by foreigners be removed, without the express sanction of the families to whom they belong, who also, so long as they remain unmoved, must be allowed every facility to visit and sweep them at the established period, but no coffins of Chinese must hereafter be placed within the said limits, or be left above ground.”[7] Of course, the same rule applied to the graveyards owned by charities and guilds. In the early history of the British Settlement, the issue of individual tombs did not lead to much trouble. The Chinese owners and foreign renters usually came to an agreement, either by paying a sum of money to have tombs removed or, more rarely, by excluding tombs and the small plot of land that surrounded them from the sale.[8] Over time, however, this practice tended to disappear. In the French Concession, the consul general and the municipal committee sought to systematically eliminate all the tombs and graveyards. It took about two decades to remove them all, except for one (belonging to the Siming Guild). Aside from dealing with individual tombs, the French also had to deal with many charity graveyards and three guild graveyards. These charities yielded without much resistance to the requests to relocate their graveyards beyond the borders of the French Concession (to be caught up again when the concession was extended in 1900 and again in 1914). One of the Fujian Guilds (we believe it was the Quanzhang Guild) and the Chaozhou Guild both owned premises, namely a guild hall, a coffin repository, and, for the Fujian Guild, a small cemetery. The Chaozhou Guild ceded its premises to the French army, while the Fujian Guild eventually agreed to sell its land and premises to the French municipality in 1861. The French took advantage of the destruction of the Small Sword Society in an uprising in 1853–1855 and the subsequent weakening of the Fujianese and Cantonese after their involvement in the rebellion.[9] The French consul wrote almost ecstatically that “the expropriation of the Fujianese and Cantonese cemeteries, so often urged and always refused, has finally been accomplished. There is no longer any trace of the famous baby tower, nor of its pestilent surroundings.”[10] Yet the French encountered their own island of resistance to their pressure to rid the settlement of all graveyards and coffin repositories. The influential Siming Guild persistently demurred and refused to touch the remains of its members. It took two confrontations, in 1874 and in 1898, to convince the leaders of the guild that the time had come to relocate its graveyard and coffin repository.[11] There is no direct record of the tombs and graveyards that were removed from the foreign settlements in the early phase of their history. Nonetheless, it is possible to make a partial reconstruction of the existing tombs and graveyards thanks to the title deeds, the documents that sealed a sale between a Chinese landowner and a foreign settler. A systematic analysis of the earliest title deeds—those of the first two decades of the settlements—has generated a substantial list of land plots (140) on which a tomb or a graveyard was located.[12] The map produced on the basis of this list—again it is only a partial view of reality—confirms that the northern and western periphery beyond the city wall was used as a burial ground. We also know that there were charity and guild graveyards in the southern outskirts, but they were not documented at the time. The distribution of the tombs shows that as the foreign settlements expanded, their territory was bound to include land with village communities, tombs, and graveyards, as well as burial grounds owned by the guilds that had sought to relocate their graves away from the city walls or land ceded to foreigners. In fact, the guilds and benevolent associations bought land further west and south to establish graveyards, only to later face unrelenting urban sprawl. If we overlay this geography of death with the successive territorial extensions of the International Settlement and of the French Concession, it becomes clear that these tombs and cemeteries stood in the way of land development and the construction of roads and eventually housing. The predominant mode of construction in Shanghai from the 1850s onward was the so-called lilong 裡弄. Interestingly, the authorities in the two settlements differed in their rendering of the term. The foreign-run Shanghai Municipal Council (SMC) named them after their function as passageways, namely “lanes,” whereas the French Municipal Council placed the emphasis on their role as housing, namely cités. What it comes down to, however, was that lilong were densely built up housing units erected on individual plots of land with no space in-between, except for the main roads on all four sides. There was no room left for tombs. While tombs may have been protected in the initial title deed, they could not survive the onslaught of urban development. While tombs and cemeteries were the most obvious forms of burials that stood in the way of urban development, they were not the only markers of death in the landscape in and around the city. There was both an inconspicuous and a very conspicuous physical presence of death. The coffin repositories of the guilds represented the former in the form of closed compounds devoted to storing the coffins of their members, pending their return to their native place for burial. Except for a few rare cases, these repositories were located outside the city walls. After the establishment of the foreign settlements, guilds usually chose land to the west and south of the city walls or, much later on, in Zhabei, on the far side of Soochow Creek. The spatial distribution of coffin repositories did not change much over time, except for the opening of new ones as new guilds emerged in Shanghai. A major change occurred with the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 when the near complete stoppage of river traffic, then the fear of losing coffins on the way, led most Shanghai residents to keep their coffins in the city. This gave birth to commercial coffin repositories that supplemented, then supplanted, the overcrowded guild repositories. The commercial repositories colonized the Western District of the International Settlement and beyond, in the space delimited by the railway line. After 1945, the municipal government forced them to evacuate the stored coffins—about a hundred and fifty thousand—but civil war again slowed down the process which only the Communist government eventually completed within two years after it took over the city.[13] The coffin repositories represented a crucial element of the social infrastructure that supported the management of death in the city. They offered a temporary station in the movement of coffins from home to native place. Finally, the issue of grave relocation involved another facet of death in and around the city: the widespread practice of “quasi burial.” This took the form of above-ground coffins (ting guan bu zang). Although most such burials were in the countryside around Shanghai, it was quite frequent to find coffins left unburied on vacant land in the city, mostly in the foreign settlements. The municipal archives abound in reports of abandoned coffins in the less frequented part of the city. This practice was not limited to Shanghai—it was true in the whole Jiangnan region—but due to the size of its population, including its hinterland, the figure for unburied coffins was staggering. Under the Qing, the local magistrates repeatedly banned the practice and organized sweeps by the benevolent associations to have the coffins buried. Yet the threat of fines failed to deter people from persisting in this practice. In the late 1940s, the municipal government still had to organize campaigns to collect these coffins and have them cremated. The Bureau of Public Health surveyed the municipal districts in 1929 and came up with a total of a hundred thousand unburied coffins. In 1936, the Shanghai Public Benevolent Cemetery (SPBC) carried out a new survey that placed the number of unburied coffins in a large area around Shanghai at approximately a hundred and fifty thousand.[14] In thinking about the presence and movement of dead bodies in the city, therefore, one needs to keep in mind this particular topography made up of both permanent features (individual tombs, burial grounds, and cemeteries) and temporary places of rest (coffin repositories, above-ground coffins). While this essay focuses on the permanent locations—at least those intended to be permanent, but in fact exposed to removal and relocation—the movement and displacement of dead bodies in and around the city from the mid-nineteenth century to the early 1950s represented a wider range of circulations within the urban space and its periphery. Grave Relocation in Modern Shanghai In late imperial and republican Shanghai, grave relocation resulted from three main factors. The first two—administrative fiat and urbanization—were clearly related. The third factor—war—was limited to the Sino-Japanese War period. Administrative intervention involved mostly two issues: the construction of new roads or the widening of thoroughfares or the construction of buildings, usually large and public facilities (courts, schools, etc.). Urbanization was a silent process that repeatedly led the owners of cemeteries—guilds and benevolent associations—to consider it in their best interests to close the cemetery, to relocate the graves to a new place in the countryside, and to turn the freed land into rental housing. The main reason was, on the one hand, the difficulties that the densification of construction and flow of people created in accessing the property and organizing burials. On the other hand, the guilds and benevolent associations could derive a substantial income from the sale of land or rental housing to fund their operations. Although a decision to vacate a cemetery was rarely made spontaneously, a small nudge by the authorities was often all that was needed. The main issue the historian faces in documenting the process of grave relocation is the silence of the archives or even just silence. Nevertheless, I have been able to identify and locate 128 burial grounds around Shanghai. This falls short of the actual number, which probably ran into the 150 to 160 range. In most instances, burial grounds just faded away from the urban scene. The cases that we know of are those that created a confrontation and a debate that spilled into the press. In addition, the owners of burial grounds sometimes published press announcements to inform the families that they were planning to dig up the graves and remove the mortal remains to another location. The families were given an opportunity to come forward and themselves take care of the removal and to choose an alternate location for reburial. Yet, it is obvious that a documentary silence shrouded the displacement of the vast majority of burial grounds. The examples I examine below represent exceptional cases and are a small sample of the continuous and sub-rosa process that pushed burial grounds further away from the urban area or simply erased them. Administrative Fiat The encounter between charity graveyards and urbanization caused friction but rarely serious tension. In the foreign settlements, the issue was more sensitive in the French Concession, although it became an issue only after the last extension in 1900. In general, the benevolent associations took action when they realized that urban development made it difficult to maintain a charity graveyard in the middle of houses and factories. In the International Settlement, the Shanghai Municipal Council generally accommodated existing graveyards as long as they did not threaten public health. In 1926, however, the council prohibited the further use of a graveyard owned by the Tongren Fuyuantang benevolent association along Sinza Road, especially because the coffins there were barely buried. The initial complaint had come from local residents, who suffered the stench emanating from the graveyard during the summer.[15] In the French Concession, serious conflicts had erupted in handling the issue of the Siming Guild graveyard. Eventually, the guild removed all the remains to a new location, though not without a fight.[16] In most cases, when graveyards got in the way of roadwork or construction or simply were the subject of private transactions, negotiations prevailed. Yet the process was not always free of tension. In March 1873, the Tongrentang benevolent association decided to rent out the land of a graveyard located along the Rue du Consulat, near the police station. It entrusted the Tongren Fuyuantang with the removal of the remains to its graveyard in Luojiawan. The affair appeared in a paper that criticized the association for renting out the land for money it did not need.[17] In 1922, the French Municipal Council required the Tongrentang to vacate another 6.6-acre (40-mu) graveyard and to relinquish the land for the construction of the Franco-Chinese Municipal School. The opposition to the removal of the graves did not come from the benevolent association itself, but from community leaders who believed the Tongrentang did not have the right to dispose of the land. The polemical debate that erupted in the meetings spilled over into the press, which reported on the issue for more than two months. The graveyard had been established in 1797 in a rural area, but a hundred and thirty years later even the Chinese authorities admitted it was out of place in what had become an urban environment. This dispute underscores how sensitive the issue of displacing mortal remains was for some Chinese who contended that economic reasons did not justify disturbing buried bodies. With great care, the remains—even down to the hair—of the 328 buried bodies, mostly men, were eventually removed.[18] The issue of removing graves was not limited to the foreign concessions. In September 1907, merchants and literati wrote jointly to the Shanghai City Council calling for a new road to connect West Gate Road and Xujiahui Road. The area had become very congested and the existing road was crowded with carts and people, while a proposed French-built tramway was bound to create even more traffic. The road would cross a 5-acre (30-mu) graveyard the Tongren Fuyuantang owned. The association had exposed itself to criticism for haphazardly placing coffins—some hardly buried—in the graveyard, which threatened public health in the view of the city council. The charity approved the removal, but its chairman reminded the council of three earlier conflicts over graveyards and questioned why Chinese graveyards were displaced from residential areas while the French cemetery (Baxianqiao) was never challenged.[19] In November 1914, the Shanghai City Council again planned to condemn a charity graveyard for children in order to build a new road, but it failed to obtain the transfer of the land. In 1920, the issue was still under discussion.[20] The magistrate of Shanghai County was more successful in obtaining the removal of another Tongrentang cemetery to make way for the new local court of justice.[21] After World War II, the municipal government attempted to reduce the presence of burial grounds within the urban districts. In 1947, it ordered the removal of all the graves from the Lingnan Cemetery.[22] The Cantonese Native-Place Association in charge of the cemetery published announcements in the press, leading many families to take action, but after the first phase of grave removal there remained about two thousand unclaimed remains.[23] In April 1948, way beyond the set deadline, the association informed its members that it would start removing the unclaimed remains to the Guang-Zhao Cemetery (Guangzhao shanzhuang) in Dachang. The Lingnan Cemetery took care of the removal of graves for the families at a cost of 10 million yuan.[24] Yet there were still 651 bone boxes, which remained untouched until 1950.[25] The People’s Government returned to this issue as part of its policy to rid the city of burial grounds. The Lingnan Cemetery was targeted as one place the authorities were eager to turn into a production site. In September 1950, the administrative board received an offer by a private entrepreneur to establish a leather factory, but the cemetery still held ossuaries that needed to be removed. The Lingnan Cemetery gave families two months to retrieve them, after which the rest would be buried in the Guang-Zhao Cemetery.[26] Despite the pressure on the Lingnan Cemetery, there was no systematic policy to force the removal of graves from old cemeteries in the postwar period. It may be that the municipal government had more leeway with the Lingnan Cemetery due to the lack of a proper land title.[27] Or was it simply that its status as a burial ground owned by powerful native-place associations generated a long trail of correspondence? There were many cemeteries in the urban districts that the municipal authorities chose to overlook. The main policy was to designate three areas (Dachang, Pusong, and Pudong) where cemeteries could open. When the Pudong-based Xi’an Cemetery sent its registration form in December 1948, the Bureau of Public Health was hesitant about issuing a license since the cemetery was not located in one of the designated zones. To back up its application, the Xi’an Cemetery produced its original registration, issued in 1936 by the Shanghai Municipal Government.[28] We can assume that denying the registration would not change the situation, while the legal ground for a forced evacuation, short of condemning the land, was not clear. Self-Regulation The major threat to cemeteries, however, was less the decisions made by the municipal administrations than the very process of urbanization and densification of the population. The charity graveyards were the burial grounds that faced the greatest threat in the competition for land. Charity graveyards were simple burial ground with a very plain appearance. Most of the time, they were just an open space made up of small tumuli, the most common form of graves in the Jiangnan region. Burial often meant very shallow interment and covering the coffin with a mound of earth. In fact, charity graveyards were often no different from the many small graveyards to be found around villages. From reading the press, it appears that graves received a small tombstone, which may have distinguished them from the more anonymous rural graveyards. Yet, because charity graveyards were places where coffins arrived from different sources, burials did not always take place immediately. This was a major source of complaints by local residents who voiced their discontent to the authorities. Was this an issue of flow and a rational choice to store coffins and bury them in batches, or was it the outcome of lax administration or sheer neglect? Practices varied, but what had been acceptable when the burial grounds were in the middle of fields became untenable in an urban context. Benevolent associations took upon themselves the decision to sell cemetery land when they realized both the impracticality of a burial ground in an urbanized area and the opportunity to invest in income-generating rental housing. In 1912, such a decision stirred up a heated debate within the Tongren Fuyuantang as several members and the Ningbo Guild opposed the sale.[29] Nevertheless, urban expansion was an unending process that challenged the preservation of charity graveyards in the city and forced the benevolent associations to relocate and to raise funds to purchase new cemetery land.[30] In 1925, the construction of roads leading to the new Jiangwan racecourse displaced individual tombs and the Houren Shantang charity graveyard.[31] In December 1932, the Guoyutang realized it had to relocate a cemetery it owned in Rihuigang, previously a rural area south of Zhaojia Creek that had turned into a thriving residential and industrial area. The charity published notices in Shenbao and Xinwenbao to inform families they had a chance to rebury the remains themselves—this confirms graves were individualized and named—and that otherwise the remains would be moved to Guoyutang’s new graveyard in Tangwan in Qingpu.[32] When cemeteries were established, their initiators did not foresee that the pleasant rural setting they had selected for their burial ground would one day be surrounded by a dense street grid and crowded with shops, houses, and unstoppable traffic. In May 1929, the Shanghai Federation of Actors (Shanghai shi lingjie lianhehui) made public its decision to leave its Liyuan Cemetery on Rue Gaston Kahn in the French Concession and move all the graves to a new site near Zhenru. The cemetery had been established before the 1914 extension of the settlement. The cost remained the responsibility of each grave owner, but the federation offered to help those with little means.[33] The federation decided to build rental houses on its cemetery land.[34] The choice of location for the new cemetery in Zhenru, however, was unfortunate. For a while after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese conflict in 1937, the cemetery was inaccessible from the city.[35] In January 1934, the Chinese Muslim Cemetery of Rihuigang, south of the French Concession, found itself fully surrounded by factories and houses. The Muslim community decided to purchase land near Zhenru to establish both a regular and a charity cemetery. The opening ceremony, including a procession that started at the mosque on Fuyou Road in the former walled city and proceeded to Zhenru, drew about a thousand people. In this case, however, the graves in the original cemetery were left untouched.[36] The Muslim community faced another challenge when the Japanese army decided to seize the small 1.6-acre (10-mu) cemetery in Zhenru to make space for the construction of a railway line. They opposed the decision and sought to have the railway rerouted to spare their cemetery. Feelings ran very high during an emergency meeting held on October 5, 1939, but the Japanese prevailed.[37] The Tongren Fuyuantang also chose to relocate one of its cemeteries in Rihuigang (south of the French Concession), which it had established in 1903. It removed 1,800 coffins and 1,097 urns.[38] The Shenbao occasionally mentions other cemeteries of the same association in the city about which we know nothing, except that they must have been relocated at some point in time.[39] The most prominent case of cemetery itinerancy, however, is that of the Guang-Zhao Guild.[40] The Chaozhou Guild and the Guang-Zhao Guild initially established the joint graveyard—Lingnan shanzhuang—in 1847 on 19 mu of land (3 acres) less than a mile outside the West Gate.[41] Although the Lingnan shanzhuang remained open until the 1930s, the Guang-Zhao Guild chose to establish its own graveyard in 1872 on 70 mu (11.5 acres) of land it acquired in the countryside, between Soochow Creek and the future Sinza Road, seemingly far away from the International Settlement. As urbanization progressed, however, the guild started to worry about the extension of the settlement and in anticipation bought a large piece of land (133 mu/22 acres) in 1896 in western Zhabei on the far side of Soochow Creek. The whole Sinza Cemetery was eventually incorporated in the International Settlement after the 1899 extension. The guild gradually transferred the remains of the sojourners to the new location. By 1920 the ever-increasing Cantonese community produced such a large number of deaths that the graveyard started to fill up. Moreover, the selected location, once a desolate riverbank, had developed into a vibrant neighborhood, Zhabei, adjacent to the graveyard. Once again, the Guang-Zhao Guild had to find a new place. In view of its past experience and the expansion of its community, the guild bought a very large track of land (300 mu or 49 acres) in 1924 between Jiangwan and Dachang. The large cemetery was planned to accommodate ten thousand public (or "model") graves, fifteen thousand paupers’ graves, and eight thousand children’s graves. By 1950, the cemetery covered 538 mu (88.6 acres), with only 11.5 acres of land still unused. By then, it had received forty thousand paupers’ remains and four thousand regular burials. In 1958, the People’s Government started to level the land—there is no information on the fate of interred remains—to build new housing. In 1992, the last vestige of the cemetery, its entrance pailou, was torn down. The whole cemetery is now the site of the Pengpu New Village (Pengpu xincun).[42] These examples show that there was no lack of movement of funeral artifacts—tombs, graves—and even whole burial grounds in modern Shanghai. We can only partly trace the trail left on the ground by the multiple resting places the benevolent associations or the guilds established in full confidence they would provide a final and permanent resting place for their dead. The excavated remains found their way to new burial grounds located in an ever-increasing radius from the city, nearby villages or town now fully enclosed in the Shanghai urban area. All the cemeteries that opened in the republican era, and even those of the postwar period, in seemingly remote locations, eventually faced the threat of urban sprawl. Wartime Erasure War affected cemeteries in many ways, but the most dramatic impact was their forced removal. The Shanghai Cemetery (Shanghai gongmu zanghu qianzang) was the main case during World War II. It was located in the Jiangwan area, where the Japanese army had concentrated both troops and equipment. The Shanghai Cemetery disappeared only seventeen years after its opening. In 1943, the Japanese navy decided to build a new aerodrome. Until then, the Japanese had used the Japanese golf course along the Huangpu River. The Shanghai Cemetery was located in the middle of the area earmarked for the new airfield. The Japan military ordered that all the graves be removed by the end of June 1943 to make room for the planned airfield. It also purchased 40 acres (130 mu) to establish a new cemetery to regroup all the individual tombs scattered in the fields condemned for the construction of the airport. Altogether, about ten thousand were removed from the area.[43] The municipal government had to find an alternative location to rebury the excavated remains from the Shanghai Cemetery, one of the largest private cemeteries in the city (248 mu).[44] Eventually, the Bureau of Land proposed a private cemetery, the Miaohang Cemetery, which would receive the bulk of all the remains, and the Japanese-run Hengchan Company.[45] The Miaohang Cemetery was entrusted with the actual removal of the remains. The second issue involved logistics. The Shanghai Municipal Government published notifications in the press inviting families to come and collect the remains and have them reburied in Miaohang.[46] Its press announcements pointed out that this was the sole opportunity to remove the remains before forced eviction. The bulk of the cost was to be borne by the powerless families. The municipal government made it plain that coffins “without owners” would be buried together in one place.[47] Because of Japanese pressure, excavation started almost as soon as the notification was issued. The Bureau of Public Health hired ten coolies to dismantle the buildings and to start excavating the coffins. Coffins were gathered on open ground pending their removal. This created trouble for the municipal government. The people who lived in the vicinity protested against the appalling display of broken coffins. And the citizens whose relatives were buried in the cemetery opposed the decision and the authorities’ haste.[48] A group of eighty-one citizens argued that the removal imposed an added expense on families already under strained circumstances. They contended they had no say in the choice of the cemetery (Miaohang) and criticized the layout of the site for reburial. They also pointed out that two thousand of the six thousand buried coffins would remain “orphan” since the concerned families had left Shanghai. Finally, they opposed the idea of a mass burial for the “orphan” coffins and proposed to establish a private company that would use the registers of the cemetery to identify all the orphan remains and take care of their reburial in Miaohang.[49] The archives contain several letters of protest, one signed by 106 citizens, as well as a letter sent to the Central Executive Committee of the Guomindang in Nanjing.[50] At the end of June, a group of citizens organized an association of the families for the transfer of the Shanghai Cemetery to take care of the removal of the excavated remains.[51] The removal of all the graves took much longer than planned, despite admonishments by the mayor.[52] Was it because of the passive resistance of citizens who dragged their feet? Was it because of the sheer number involved and the logistical difficulties? Was it out of fear of creating a major disturbance if drastic measures were imposed on citizens who were extremely concerned by the issue of the mortal remains of their forebears? Was it simply because the municipal government had underestimated the cost and time that were necessary? While there is no figure of the number of graves transferred by the families, the staff of the Miaohang Cemetery removed 1,318 orphan remains at a rate of fifty a day. Eventually, these orphan remains were buried individually with their original stone or a tablet when none existed. Their removal was completed by October and the Bureau of Public Health reported that the work was completed at the end of February 1944.[53] The Postwar Legacy By the end of the war, various sections of Shanghai had literally become “ghost cities.” In these areas, large compounds, sometimes hastily constructed, housed a fast increasing number of coffins. These new coffin repositories were mostly located in the International Settlement, in the Western District, or in the Outside Roads area where the Shanghai Municipal Council had built roads and actually policed the area. Although the Chinese collaborationist municipality claimed jurisdiction over the area, it was considered relatively safe from Japanese involvement and it attracted a considerable number of funeral companies. The area south of the former walled city represented a second major area of concentration of coffin repositories, most of them the property of guilds. The guilds had lost access to their buildings when the Japanese occupied the city. After the Wang Jingwei government established a municipal administration in 1940, the guilds returned to their facilities and progressively, though cautiously, resumed storing coffins (Figure 1). Figure 1. Number of stored coffins in the International Settlement At the end of the war, the total number of coffins stored in the various facilities exceeded a hundred thousand. It was probably closer to a hundred and fifty thousand. The municipal government initiated a policy requiring the removal of all these coffins. Although the guilds and the commercial repositories started shipping coffins, the process was slow and very uneven. A major issue was the loss of contacts—because of death, migration, etc.—with the families of the deceased. The outbreak of conflict between the Nationalists and the Communists again created the same uncertainty as during the Sino-Japanese War. Chinese families became wary of shipping coffins upriver and once again opted for storing them in the city. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) inherited nearly the same inventory of coffins, which it sought to remove from the urban area. While the new authorities wielded more power and clearly pressured the guilds and commercial repositories to cremate all their stored coffins, it took almost three years to rid the city of these coffins. Eventually, only two repositories, located far from the urban area, were allowed to continue. The stored coffins, however, were not the only challenge the authorities faced at the end of the war. During the first years of the war, the benevolent associations had lost access to their burial grounds in Pudong and in the Jiangwan area. Both came under the control of the Japanese army, especially Jiangwan as discussed above. As an emergency measure, the two major associations involved in the burial of the poor, refugees, and exposed corpses buried the dead on any piece of vacant land they could rent in the Western District of the International Settlement. When fighting moved away from Shanghai, the Shanghai Municipal Council pressured the Shanghai Public Benevolent Cemetery to dig up all the coffins laid down in the temporary burial grounds and remove them from the settlement. Eventually, the council also helped the SPBC gain access to land in the Outside Road area and to rent a large piece of land to serve as a cemetery. The SPBC used the place to bury the corpses it collected in the streets as well as those from families without means, as it had done before. At the end of 1938, the authorities in the two settlements required the cremation of all the exposed corpses. The SMC never relented on this policy throughout the war. Yet, the SPBC was allowed to continue to bury the coffins of ordinary people. This became the single largest cemetery in Shanghai, with over a hundred thousand coffins laid down, basically above ground, three layers thick. The coffins were covered with no more than a thin layer of earth. At the end of the war, the original owner of the land reclaimed his land, which eventually forced the SPBC, once again, to remove all the coffins, this time to its Puyi Cemetery in Dachang. This ended the era of grave relocation before the CCP took over the city and decided to eliminate all the cemeteries from the urban districts. The Post-1949 Great Migration In November 1949, when the CCP turned to the management of death in the city, there were altogether forty-one private cemeteries in and around Shanghai. The People’s Government inherited eight municipal cemeteries with a total of 43,736 graves, with additional space for only 13,539 graves. The main issue the new authorities faced was the lack of burial space to meet the projected need of thirty thousand deaths a year. The Bureau of Public Health and the Bureau of Public Works took over the concept of “cemetery zones” (gongmuqu 公墓區) from the previous administration.[54] No new cemetery and no existing or new repository was allowed to remain in the urban area. The most pressing need was for cemeteries. A total of thirty-eight applications had been received to open new cemeteries, all but five from people who wanted to establish commercial enterprises.[55] To address the need of the population for burial space, the People’s Government settled on permitting the establishment of cemeteries in ten designated areas, each no larger than 10 mu. Like their foreign and Chinese predecessors, the authorities failed to foresee that urbanization would eventually challenge the existence of these cemeteries.[56] At the same time as it addressed the issue of opening new cemeteries, the People’s Government implemented a policy of systematic removal of the downtown cemeteries. Shanghai was short on open spaces and building space. Under the foreign settlements, all attempts to remove two cemeteries, the Shantung Road Cemetery and the Pootung Sailors’ Cemetery, had failed due to legal objections. The People’s Government was no longer bound by legal considerations, but all the same it had to address the concerns and feelings of the population, not just of foreigners, as many Chinese were buried in these cemeteries. Although the foreign cemeteries were the most obvious targets, because of their location in what had become downtown Shanghai, the same policy applied to Chinese cemeteries. The difference lies in the lack of documentation about their removal, except for the Lingnan Cemetery. The first cemetery on the priority list of the authorities was the Shantung Road Cemetery. Located in the heart of the city center, four blocks from the Bund and two blocks from Nanking Road, the cemetery had been closed to burials as early as 1871, but the SMC had carefully maintained it throughout the decades. Although very few people could actually relate to the bodies interred there, the Shantung Road Cemetery was a central symbolic landmark in the collective memory of the people of Shanghai.[57] Even after 1945, when the foreign settlements had disappeared, any sign of neglect was resented and could spark a protest. The Chinese municipal government took great care to provide for its upkeep. Work on the relocation of the graves in the Shantung Road Cemetery started in November 1951 with the removal of the 469 remains to the Ji’an Cemetery in the Qingpu District. The Shantung Road Cemetery made way for the Shantung Road Sports Hall (Shandonglu tiyuchang).[58] The second cemetery that came under the removal policy was the Bubbling Well Cemetery, the second major cemetery the Shanghai Municipal Council opened in 1898. Because it had received burials until 1949—the grave plots had all been sold out before 1943, but burials took place much later—the Bureau of Civil Affairs published press announcements to inform families they had to remove the remains before the end of October 1953 to the Dachang Cemetery. The general policy was to entrust families with the responsibility and cost of the removal, even if the bureau provided staff and vehicles to assist.[59] The removal of the graves was a much larger task as the Bubbling Well Cemetery had received 5,353 burials, of which 371 were the graves of Chinese, even if the official report by the People’s Government noted that only 2,576 were identified.[60] The Bubbling Well Cemetery was turned into a public park (Jing’an gongyuan). All the cemeteries previously established in the foreign settlements or by the foreign municipal authorities in Chinese-administered territory underwent the same process, although their less central location, except for the Baxianqiao Cemetery, may explain the delay in their removal. The Pahsienjao Cemetery (Baxianqiao), once a burial ground shared by both settlements, including a section reserved for Muslims, was relocated in 1957. The five thousand-plus graves opened since 1863 were transferred to the Ji’an Cemetery in Qingpu. Two years later, the Bureau of Public Utilities proposed to turn the small Lokawei Cemetery (Lujiawan) in the Luwan District into a parking lot. The cemetery had opened in 1908 in Chinese territory, before becoming part of the French Concession after the 1914 extension. There were 2,088 graves, most of which were foreigners (1,994) and only 32 were Chinese. The Office of Funeral Management organized the transfer of the remains to the Ji’an Cemetery.[61] The other major foreign municipal cemeteries remained in place, even if most were closed to new burials as early as 1949. This was the case of the West Cemetery (Cimetière de l’Ouest) in the French Concession, the last addition (1943) in a string of burial grounds opened to receive the remains of indigents, mostly Russians. This cemetery left no paper trail to document its subsequent fate. The other cemetery for indigents, the Zikawei Cemetery, was entrusted to an automobile factory in 1965, which took charge of removing the graves to an unknown destination. Although we do not know the number of graves, its small size (8 mu) did not allow for more than eight hundred graves. The Hungjao Cemetery (Hongqiao), the largest foreign cemetery in Shanghai, including the Panyu section reserved for Jewish burials, remained in use until 1972. Its subsequent fate is unclear, although it eventually made room for a factory, then a public park. Quite unexpectedly, the unused Pootung Cemetery was left untouched, despite its location in the middle of a busy area on the banks of the Huangpu River. The cemetery was closed to burial in 1904 before it reached its full capacity. The Pootung Cemetery was the last foreign cemetery that remained in the city until its displacement in 1975, with its graves removed to the International Cemetery, one of the most sought-after cemeteries in post-1949 Shanghai, an interesting turn of events for a place clearly marked as a lower-class cemetery.[62] Aside from the foreign municipal cemeteries, there were a few major places of burial in the city. The oldest ones were a small Parsi cemetery along Fuzhou Road, initially in open land in 1860, but later fully enveloped by houses and hidden behind a row of shops. Few people were aware of its existence in the very heart of the city. It is unclear how long it remained in use, but it was officially closed only in 1952. By this time, the cemetery contained 530 graves. I was not able to document when and where these graves were removed. Jewish cemeteries were the largest burial grounds used by a single community in Shanghai. They lost much of their relevance after 1945 when most of the Jewish population, both former refugees or residents of the foreign settlements, left China. The oldest cemetery (Hebrew Cemetery) operated by Sephardi Jews, opened in 1860 next to the former racecourse on a small plot of land (2 mu) and eventually contained more than three hundred graves. The small cemetery was still there in 1949, even if it had been closed to burials some time at the turn of the century. The Russian Ashkenazi community opened a larger cemetery (20 mu) on Baikal Road, in the remote Yangtzsepoo District in 1922. By the end of the war it had 1,692 graves. It was turned into a public park (Huimin gongyuan) in 1959. Another Jewish cemetery opened during the Sino-Japanese War on Point Road in the Yangtzsepoo District at the easternmost end of the settlement to meet the needs of Jewish refugees. Its 834 graves were removed in the late 1950s, along with all the graves in the other Jewish cemeteries, to the Ji’an Cemetery. The location was turned over a factory. By the late 1950s, foreign cemeteries had all disappeared from the urban districts. The fate of the Chinese cemeteries is much more difficult to document. There were very few cemeteries in the urban area. The Lingnan cemetery of the Cantonese community had been forced to remove all its graves in 1947 to the Guang-Zhao Cemetery (Guangzhao shanzhuang) in Dachang. All the other cemeteries were located far outside the urban area, at least in 1949. Since the late 1920s, even without stringent regulations by the Chinese municipal authorities, all the commercial cemeteries had opened in the countryside where land was cheap and where the managers could shape the landscape to make the cemetery attractive to Shanghai’s residents. As pointed out above, in the 1940s, the municipality had designated three areas for the opening of cemeteries and rejected all applications that did not conform to this rule. The CCP implemented the same policy, even if it placed restrictions on the size of cemeteries to leave open their removal at a later date. Although no official survey included all the existing cemeteries—surveys usually recorded the active cemeteries, but overlooked the closed ones—there were more than forty active cemeteries around Shanghai in 1949, some with large estates (greater than 100 mu). The fate of these cemeteries was less conditioned by the pressure of urbanization or administrative decisions than by political frenzy (the Great Leap Forward) or political turmoil (the Cultural Revolution). During the Great Leap Forward, cemeteries like all other units had to prove their worth to the nation and turn their assets to productive use. Where land was available in cemeteries, workers started to cultivate vegetables or raise animals, mostly pigs. Internal official reports documented in great detail the transformation of cemetery land into farms, with record production of carrots or cabbages and hundreds of pigs in straw sheds. Space for burial was restricted to the former alleys or in the space between existing graves. The less important cemeteries were simply leveled and turned into farmland.[63] Throughout the Great Leap Forward, fifty-four thousand graves were said to have been dug up, with no indication about the fate of the remains.[64] There is no evidence that the authorities organized the removal of the graves to other locations. They simply erased the cemeteries from the ground. The Cultural Revolution brought another onslaught on cemeteries with far deeper consequences. Cemeteries and the rituals families held there became one of the targets of the Red Guards’ attack on the Four Olds (dapo sijiu 大破四舊). In December 1966, gangs of Red Guards literally raided cemeteries to upturn and destroy the tombstones and even dug up coffins and scattered the remains on the ground. Peasants joined the fray, probably under official orders, and desecrated and obliterated around four hundred thousand tombs.[65] The Red Guards even dug up the tomb of the prominent Song family in the International Cemetery. This appalling action gravely distressed Song Qingling, the widow of Sun Yat-sen. Zhou Enlai decided to take action and put a stop to the frenzy. In July 1967, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) placed the cemeteries under its control. By then, nine cemeteries had already been turned over to various work units (factories, hospitals, warehouses).[66] The PLA took over the twenty-four remaining cemeteries.[67] Although the Song family grave was restored, and later turned into the Song Qingling Memorial (Song Qingling lingyuan), the International Cemetery itself disappeared. Conclusion The space of death in Shanghai, as embodied by burial grounds and cemeteries, experienced a tremendous change under the combined pressure of population growth, urbanization, administrative regulation, and land prices. Another factor was the emergence of commercial cemeteries that served a different purpose from the burial grounds the guilds and benevolent associations had established to meet the needs of the population. War had also a patent but limited impact, erasing only a few places for the sake of military installations. The guilds and benevolent associations provided what one could call a service of proximity. Their burial grounds were established next to the city walls, then further away but still at the fringe of the built-up area. As urbanization progressed, the threat of expulsion and displacement became more pronounced with each passing year. Because they were lower-grade burial grounds, with lax management and delayed burials, the charity graveyards were the main targets when local residents voiced their discontent or when an administration needed land for roads or buildings. The graveyards of the long-established guilds fared better because their members were quick to mobilize against any infringement. Yet many guilds chose to relocate when they felt they needed more space for burial. The commercial cemeteries selected from the start locations that were far from the center of the city. Because they were commercial operations, they took into consideration the cost of land, but also the necessity to have ample open land to design attractive modern cemeteries. Their prospective customers were not the poor and the lower class. They catered to the emerging middle classes who could afford to pay for a decent grave and for their transportation to the cemetery for the annual rites (Qingming, anniversary, etc.). The commercial cemeteries formed a remote belt of burial places all around the city, except Pudong, with a notable concentration in both the northwestern and southwestern corners outside Shanghai. The removal of graves and complete cemeteries was part and parcel of urban development in Shanghai from the very beginning. Although the relocation of graveyards was a contentious issue, which in a few cases generated rancorous disputes and in exceptional cases rioting, this was mostly a silent process. The historian only gets a glimpse of this erasure through press announcements—they were not systematic— or news about a contested sale of cemetery land. The relocation of most intra-urban Chinese cemeteries was largely undocumented, even if great care was taken to remove each and every mortal remains, down to the last strand of hair. The Communist authorities actually treated the foreign cemeteries with the same care when they initiated a policy of systematic removal of all cemeteries from the built-up area. How they dealt with the guild and charity graveyards remains a black hole, but the dismantling of the guilds and benevolent associations gave them more leeway on burial grounds shrouded in anonymity. Commercial cemeteries did not represent a challenge per se until the Great Leap Forward when political and economic frenzy turned all such places into production units. Finally, cemeteries as an infrastructure for the management of death came to an end in 1966, when many were destroyed. The fate of the places that survived the onslaught is unknown. By then, the dead stopped marching around the city. Notes Source of image at the top of this essay: Photograph of Pootung Cemetery, Shanghai, 1934. The China Press, March 28, 1934. [1] Charles B. Maybon and Jean Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1929), ii. [2] Granville G. Loch, The Closing Events of the Campaign in China: The Operations in the Yang-Tze-Kiang and Treaty of Nanking (London: J. Murray, 1843), 44. [3] See Virtual Shanghai, pictures ID 34479 and ID 34480, https://www.virtualshanghai.net/. [4] Christian Henriot, Scythe and the City: A Social History of Death in Shanghai (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016), 163 and 171. [5] Maybon and Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 286 and 369. [6] Henriot, Scythe and the City, 80–83; Bryna Goodman, Native Place, City, and Nation Regional Networks and Identities in Shanghai, 1853–1937 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 159–69. [7] Land Regulations and Bye Laws for the Foreign Settlement of Shanghai, Art. III, Anatol M. Kotenev, Shanghai: Its Mixed Court and Council; Material Relating to the History of the Shanghai Municipal Council and the History, Practice and Statistics of the International Mixed Court : Chinese Modern Law and Shanghai Municipal Land Regulations and Bye-Laws Governing the Life in the Settlement (Shanghai: North-China Daily News & Herald, 1925), 588 and 563. [8] Chen Li 陈琍, “Jindai Shanghai chengxiang jingguan bianqian (1843–1863): Ji yu daoqi dang’an de shuju chuli yu fenxi 近代上海城乡景观变迁 (1843-1863): 基于道契档案的数据处理与分析” (PhD diss., Fudan University, 2010), 119–20. [9] Maybon and Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 237–38. [10] Ibid., 238. [11] Henriot, Scythe and the City, 80–83; Goodman, Native Place, City, and Nation Regional Networks, 159–69. [12] Chen, “Jindai Shanghai chengxiang jingguan bianqian (1843–1863),” 123–27. [13] Henriot, Scythe and the City, 106–16. [14] Ibid., 150–51. [15] Shenbao, March 11, 1926, March 19, 1926, June 12, 1926. [16] Ibid., January 31, 1874; Bryna Goodman, “The Locality as Microcosm of the Nation? Native Place Networks and Early Urban Nationalism in China,” Modern China 21.4 (1995): 391–94. [17] Shenbao, March 27, 1873. [18] Ibid., April 12, 1922, April 25, 1922, May 2, 1922, May 6, 1922, May 8, 1922, May 11, 1922, May 12, 1922, May 13, 1922, June 4, 1922, June 6, 1922, June 10, 1922, June 11, 1922. [19] “Xinmen wai shenshang qing pu malu,” Shenbao, September 30, 1907; “Ximen wai qian zhong zhulu wenti,” Shenbao, March 26, 1908; “Gongchengju jiejue jiu tiao luxia,” Shenbao, March 26, 1908; “Hu dao duiyu qianzhong zhulu zhi shenzhong,” Shenbao, March 28, 1908. [20] Shenbao, November 16, 1914, October 12, 1920. [21] Ibid., April 9, 1915, December 10, 1917. [22] Letter, Lingnan Cemetery/Guang-Zhao Cemetery/Yanjishantang to members, October 21, 1947, Q117-2-217, Shanghai Municipal Archives (hereafter, SMA). [23] Report, Cantonese Native-Place Association, September 27, 1950; Letter, Cantonese Native-Place Association, October 23, 1950, Q117-2-217, SMA. [24] Document, Guangdong Lühu tongxianghui, n.d. [1948], Q117-2-216, SMA. See individual removal authorization forms in Q117-2-217, SMA. [25] Letter, Guangdong Lühu tongxianghui to members, March 17, 1948; Letter, Guangdong tongxianghui to members, April 4, 1948, Q117-2-216, SMA. Bone boxes were individual ossuaries where the remains were placed after excavating the bones. Several terms were used to designate these boxes: wata, jiuta, and guta. [26] Letter, Lingnan Cemetery Board to members, September 8, 1950; Minutes, Lingnan Cemetery Board, September 13, 1950; Report, Cantonese Native-Place Association, September 27, 1950, Q117-2-217, SMA. [27] Henriot, Scythe and the City, 54–55. [28] Letter, Xi’an Cemetery to Weishengju, December 20, 1948; Memorandum, Weishengju, 1948, Q400-1-3905, SMA. [29] Shenbao, September 16, 1912, September 20, 1912. [30] Ibid., December 9, 1903, February 19, 1904. [31] Ibid., January 13, 1925. [32] Ibid., December 28, 1932. [33] “Lingjie lianhehui wei gongmu qianzang shijin yaoqi shi,” Shenbao, May 4, 1929. [34] “Shanghai shi lingjie lianhehui quanti huiyuan qi shi,” Shenbao, October 20, 1934. [35] Letter, Shanghai shi lingjie lianhehui, August 9, 1939, U38-5-1485, SMA. [36] “Zhenru qingzhen di’er bieshu zuori luocheng,” Shenbao, January 24, 1934. [37] Shenbao, October 3, 1939; “Rifang leqian huijiao gongmu,” Shenbao, October 6, 1939. [38] Shenbao, December 9, 1903, June 4, 1934. [39] Ibid., August 3, 1872 (Ximen), August 10, 1879 (behind Siming), April 5, 1896 (Gaochangmiao), April 1, 1899 (Jiang’ansi), April 23, 1900 (Laobeimen), September 13, 1920 (Kansuh Road), October 17, 1920 (Cuiwei’an), November 5, 1931 (Connaught Road), January 11, 1932 (Jumen Road), June 5, 1933 (Chezhan Road), July 4, 1933 (Damuqiao), November 6, 1933 (Panjiaqiao), June 22, 1934 (North Chekiang Road), September 7, 1934 (Bei caixianghuaqiao). [40] Memorandum, Jingchaju, May 11, 1945, R1-9-361, SMA. [41] Henriot, Scythe and the City, 54–57. [42] Zhabei quzhi 闸北区志, section 27 “Minzheng” 第二十八编民政 (Civil affairs), chap. 5 第五章社会行政管理, art. 4, “Binzang” 殡葬 (Funerals). [43] Letter, Weishengju to mayor, October 24, 1947; Note, Weishengju, October 16, 1947, both in Q400-1-3907, SMA. [44] Letter, mayor to Japanese navy, April 17, 1943, R1-9-284, SMA. [45] Letter, TDJ to mayor, April 24, 1943, R1-9-284, SMA. [46] Letter, Weishengju to mayor, June 19, 1943, R1-9-284, SMA. [47] Report, Weishengju to mayor, May 11, 1943, R1-9-284, SMA. [48] Letter, citizens to Weishengju, May 5, 1943, R1-9-284, SMA. [49] Letter, eighty-one citizens to Weishengju, June 16, 1943, R1-9-284, SMA. [50] Letter, 106 citizens to mayor, n.d. [June 1943]; Letter, citizens to Guomindang zhongyang zhixing weiyuanhui, n.d. [transferred on June 28, 1943 to the Shanghai mayor]; Letter, citizens to mayor, June 8, 1943; Letter, citizens to mayor, June 14, 1943, R1-9-284, SMA. [51] Letter, citizens to SZF, June 28, 1943, R1-9-284, SMA. [52] Letter, mayor to Weishengju, August 26, 1943, R1-9-284, SMA. [53] Letter, Weishengju to mayor, March 22, 1944, R1-9-284, SMA. [54] The designated areas varied slightly over time. The municipal government selected four areas labeled bingshequ as early as 1932. It included Jiangwan, Caojing, Pusong, and Yangjing. The postwar administration modified the list, which the People’s Government initially adopted in 1950 with Dachang, Pusong, and Yangsi. In 1952, however, it dropped the last one and added Pudong (Zhangjiazhai). Henriot, Scythe and the City, 117, 184–86. [55] Report, Weishengju, n.d. [November 1949], B242-1-226, SMA. [56] Henriot, Scythe and the City, 185. [57] E. S Elliston, Shantung Road Cemetery, Shanghai, 1846–1868: With Notes about Pootung Seamen’s Cemetery [and] Soldiers’ Cemetery (Shanghai: Millington?, 1946). [58] Zheng Zu’an, “Shandong lu gongmu de bianqian” [The vicissitudes of the Shandong Road Cemetery], Dang’an yu lishi [Archives and history], no. 6 (2001): 72. [59] Notification, Minzhengju, October 28, 1953, B1-2-840, SMA. [60] Letter, Renmin zhengfu waishichu to Waijiaobu, July 21, 1953, B1-2-840, SMA. [61] Letter, Gongyong shiye guanliju to all concerned units, May 26, 1959; “Shili luwan gongmu qianzang jihua,” May 21, 1959, B257-1-1500, 34, SMA. [62] Xu Dabiao 徐大標 and Xu Runliang 徐潤良, “Shanghai binzangye yu baoxing binyiguan" 上海殯葬業與寶興殯儀館, Shanghai difang zhi 上海地方誌, no. 3 (1999). [63] Henriot, Scythe and the City, 189–90. [64] Shanghai tongzhi 上海通志 (Shanghai gazetteer), vol. 43 Shehui shenghuo 社会生活 (Social life), chap. 7 “Bingzang” 殡葬 (Funerals). [65] Ibid.,, chap. 17 “Binzang guanli” 殡葬管理 (The management of funerals), art. 2 “Sheshi he fuwu” 設施與服務 (Installations and services). [66] Henriot, Scythe and the City, 189–91. [67] Shanghai tongzhi, vol. 43 Shehui shenghuo, chap. 17, art. 2 “Sheshi he fuwu.” No Room for the Dead On Grave Relocation in Contemporary China Thomas S. Mullaney Stanford University Essay DOI: 10.21627/2019cd/tsm In the summer of 2007, I found myself in the backseat of an airport taxi just outside the city of Dunhuang in northwest China. Looking out of the car window at an expanse of desert terrain, I noticed small, chalk-white posts in the distance. “What are those?” I asked the taxi driver. “Those are graves,” he explained, looking out of the driver-side window. Silence resumed. A few moments passed, and he continued. “They used to be over there.” His arm was outstretched, this time gesturing toward the passenger side of the vehicle. The graves, he explained, had been moved from one side of the highway to the other. Arriving at my destination, I disembarked and set about my day. This passing exchange stayed with me, however, for the remainder of the visit and beyond. Why were these graves moved? What involvement did the families of the deceased have in this process? How did they feel about it? Where else in China was this happening? At what scale? How does one move a grave? These and many other questions have taken nearly ten years to answer, drawing me into a history that extends far beyond any one locale in China. Indeed, the scale of this history proved shocking to me, in terms of its sheer scope and intensity: With at least ten million graves exhumed over the past decade alone, China’s grave relocation campaign dwarfs in size and scope any known grave relocation effort, past or present, in the rest of the world. In the process, it has touched the lives of millions of families across the country and across the global diaspora.[1] To grasp the immensity of Chinese grave relocation is no simple feat. At one end of the spectrum, a number of highly visible relocation initiatives account for tens and hundreds of thousands of exhumed graves each. Because of the controversies they engendered, these relocations are relatively well documented in the Chinese press. At the other end of the spectrum, some smaller-scale relocations have sparked major controversies as well, even though they involved the exhumation of sometimes only a single corpse. Between these two, well-documented extremes, however, resides a vast array of sparsely documented relocation initiatives—thousands of county-, township-, and village-level initiatives that, while surfacing only rarely in Chinese media, account for the majority of the millions of corpses that have been relocated in China during the contemporary period. In the first part of this essay, we will consider the highly visible instances of Chinese grave relocation, both large and small. In the second part, we will then move on to an examination of what might be termed the “undocumented migration” of the dead. The Visible Extremes of Chinese Grave Relocation Controversy in Zhoukou The largest and most controversial grave relocation in contemporary China took place in 2012 in Henan Province, in the greater municipal area of Zhoukou City. In the span of less than nine months, 2.5 million corpses were exhumed and relocated as part of the “digging graves for farmland” campaign (平坟复耕 pingfen fugeng).[2] This translates into a rate of just under four hundred corpses exhumed and relocated every hour—or one corpse every ten seconds. Supported by municipal and Chinese Communist Party leadership, as well as the Zhoukou Bureau of Land Resources (周口市国土资源局 Zhoukoushi guotu ziyuanju), the sweeping initiative was first outlined in a document entitled “Opinions Regarding Advancing Funeral Reforms” (关于进一步推进殡葬改革的实施意见 Guanyu jinyibu tuijin binzanggaige de shishiyijian).[3] City and party officials estimated that the greater Zhoukou municipal region encompassed a total of 3.5 million graves, collectively occupying fifty thousand mu of land, or roughly thirteen square miles (thirty-three square kilometers). To help facilitate relocation, the city would pay for the cost of cremation at a level of six hundred RMB per grave, and would oversee the construction of 3,130 “environmentally friendly” cemeteries. All of this would be designed to overcome what was increasingly referred to as “conflicts between the living and the dead over land resources.”[4] At the earliest stages of the Zhoukou initiative, the epicenter was Shangshui County 商水县, located to the south and west of Zhoukou City.[5] In Zhuji Village 朱集村, Lianji Township 练集镇, 1,043 graves were exhumed and relocated, reportedly without incident.[6] However, in May 2012, Guo Kui 郭岿, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) secretary of Daliu Village 大刘村 in Chengguan Township 城关乡, displayed his loyalty by exhuming eleven of his own family graves in the area. Guo’s actions were designed both to signal the launch of the grave relocation program and to help neutralize growing criticism of the project. In the same village of Daliu, for example, the resident Wang Ling 王玲 was forced to exhume and relocate the body of her late husband Su Fusheng 苏富生, who had passed away but a few weeks earlier, even before she had been able to undertake the traditional practice of “second-week grieving” (二七 erqi). The initial phase of the Zhoukou campaign involved the relocation of more than twenty thousand graves in twenty-eight separate villages. Scandal soon befell the initiative, however, when in October 2012 the daughter-in-law and son-in-law of seventy-year-old CCP member Zhang Fang 张方 perished when a tombstone collapsed during the family’s hastened efforts to dig up the family’s graves.[7] The village of Hetao 河套村 in Fugou County 扶沟县 of Zhoukou soon found itself in the national media spotlight, with attention growing around the intensity and velocity of the initiative, as well as the steep incentive and punishment structure put in place. Whereas the first fifteen townships to complete the campaign goal would receive rewards ranging thirty to one hundred thousand RMB, townships unable to fulfill their grave relocation quotas by the scheduled deadline would incur penalties of one hundred RMB per grave, along with negative media exposure and punishments for local party cadres—all of which contributed to the fatal haste of Zhang and his family members.[8] Other controversies soon broke out over the unequal treatment of elite and non-elite members of local society. Villagers in Chenkou Village 陈口村, located in Shicaoji Township 石槽集乡 of Shenqiu County 沈丘县, reported that the former Zhoukou city councilor and vice-mayor had chosen the sites of their own ancestral graves as the locations of newly constructed public cemeteries—thereby excusing themselves of the responsibility of exhuming and relocating their own ancestors. Villagers in nearby Zhengying 郑营村 reported similar activities involving their own village officials.[9] Critical voices grew louder when it came to light how such newly “grave-free” lands were being used. Rather than recovering land for agricultural production, as advertised in the slogan of “digging graves for farmland,” the government of Shangshui had reportedly petitioned provincial government authorities for permission to allocate a portion of the recovered land to the expansion of the county’s industrial district (产业聚集区 chanye jujiqu)—a lucrative venture which suggested a profit-seeking motive behind the initiative.[10] With Zhoukou’s initiative entering its sixth month, municipal leaders released a report that offered local citizens—and the nation at large—perhaps the first glimpse of the sheer scale of the program: 2.46 million bodies relocated in the space of just a few short months, with a cremation rate of a perfect one hundred percent.[11] Accolades from provincial and even national leaders followed. On November 7, 2012, the vice-governor of Henan Province Wang Tie 王铁 awarded the Zhoukou municipal government three million RMB as an expression of support for the city’s model work in funeral reforms.[12] The following day, the head of the National Bureau of Civic Affairs Yu Jianliang 俞建良 visited Zhoukou and offered further praise for the city’s preparation and execution of the campaign.[13] At the same time, however, media coverage of Zhoukou’s campaign struck altogether different chords with the national viewing public. On screen were shown scores of villagers, scouring through the countryside, using both manual farm implements and mechanized backhoes to dig up coffins and bodies. In one sequence, a late-middle-age man was seen perched atop a partially shattered grave monument, his sledgehammer caught in mid-descent. For any Chinese viewer of a certain age, images such as these would undoubtedly have invoked memories of Mao-era mass mobilization campaigns, and perhaps more specifically, parallel images from the Smash the Four Olds campaign of the early Cultural Revolution (1966—1976) (Figures 1 and 2). Figure 1. News footage of Zhoukou grave relocation campaign. Kan Dongfang Morning Show November 23, 2012. Figure 2. Propaganda poster from Cultural Revolution-era Smash the Four Olds campaign. Scatter the old world, build a new world. Ca. 1967. chineseposters.net (BG D29/184 (IISH collection)). For younger generations, the Zhoukou campaign triggered different kinds of conversation, commentary, and debate framed within different webs of cultural reference. In particular, some late-teenage, college-age, and early-career-age men and women began to identify with the depressing fate of the evicted corpse, a fate that reminded them of their own inability to find stable, affordable housing close to their schools, places of work, or sites of leisure. From this vantage point, the living and the dead were not so much in competition with one another for resources, but part of the same precarious economic reality in which risk, uncertainty, and instability were increasingly normalized as simply a part of everyday life. In particular, members of China’s so-called “ant tribes” (蚁族 yizu)—university students who, despite being enrolled at some of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in China, encounter a cost of living so difficult to bear that they are forced to live in cramped, crowded living quarters, sometimes in poverty-level conditions—have much more in common with corpses than they do with their parents’ generation. Like the evicted corpse, they are constantly being pushed out of the cities, into ever-distant, urban peripheries. These sentiments were given a voice in a homemade satire-cum-protest music video, patterned after the wildly popular music video “Gangnam Style” by South Korean pop artist Psy. In the video, young men and women in chalky white face paint and darkened eyes danced along to the refrain “I fear ‘grave flattening style’ (Wo pa pingfen style 我怕平坟 Style) (with the phrase “Wo pa” / “I fear,” deftly rhyming with the “Oppa” / “I/older brother” of the Korean original). The video went viral on Youku, one of China’s main video-sharing platforms (Figure 3). Figure 3. “I fear ‘grave flattening style’” music video In the wake of rising local resentment against the campaign, and growing attention by the local and national media, the PRC State Council intervened on November 16, 2012, releasing a modification of Regulations on Funeral and Interment Control (殡葬管理条例 Binzang guanli tiaoli) known simply as Decree No. 628 (国务院第628号令 Guowuyuan di 628 haoling). According to the decree, local governments would no longer be legally permitted to forcibly remove graves without securing the agreement and compliance of local citizens. With this, the State Council endeavored to place a moratorium on Zhoukou’s campaign.[14] State intervention was not sufficient to bring an immediate end to the program, however. One week later, on November 23, high-level local officials in Zhoukou convened and decided to persist in the “digging graves for farmland” campaign.[15] By this point in the campaign, an estimated 80 percent of all the graves in Zhoukou had been exhumed, cremated, and relocated, and they were clearly eager to see the program through to its final denouement. The decision to continue, however, was met with vociferous condemnations in Chinese news and social media circles. Op-ed pieces appeared expressing disbelief over Zhoukou’s decision to continue its grave-digging campaign.[16] Tsinghua University scholar Xu Zhangrun 许章润, Peking University scholar Zhang Qianfan 张千帆, and twenty-six other academics issued a statement condemning the campaign for damaging Chinese traditions and injuring the feelings of Chinese citizens.[17] Renmin University professor Zheng Fengtian 郑风田, speaking as part of the College of Agriculture and Rural Development (农业与农村发展学院 Nongye yu nongcun fazhan xueyuan), also released a statement denouncing the Zhoukou campaign, accusing the municipality of trying to profit from the “recovered” agricultural land.[18] Ultimately, the Zhoukou campaign came to end, but not before it had, by most measures, completed its original objective. The region had been all but purged of the dead. The Politics of Moving a Single Body The grave relocation program in Zhoukou was, without question, the most sweeping in contemporary China. We should not assume, however, that the level of controversy generated by a relocation was in some simple or direct way proportional to the total number of graves being moved. Some of the most controversial and media-prolific events involved the relocation of single graves. One way the relocation of a single grave could achieve national attention was when the grave in question stood in the way of larger economic and political logics. These were individual graves that stood in the pathway of large-scale railway development, highway development, and municipal construction plans. In Shanxi Province, for example, real estate developers in Taiyuan were forced to carry out construction of a new high-rise apartment complex around a grave that family members were unwilling to relocate. Like their more widely known “nail house” counterparts—domiciles that homeowners refused to sell or abandon when approached by developers or state officials—hold-out gravesites, or “nail graves,” have commanded significant media attention and generated rich and often fascinating cascades on Weibo, the massive Chinese microcast platform often compared to Twitter. A more dramatic example comes from China’s South-North water diversion program, the immense terraforming project designed to port water to the country’s relatively arid, but highly populated north. In May 2012, a film crew from CCTV followed a government cadre in Hubei Province, in the area of Shiyan, as he interviewed and attempted to persuade a local villager who remained unwilling to relocate an ancestral gravesite standing in the path of a water diversion pipeline.[19] His face appeared weathered, holding a cigarette deep in the purse of his fingers, and posing somewhat defiantly for the camera. That grave will be moved “over my dead body,” his statement read along the bottom edge of the screen (Figure 4). Figure 4. May 2012 CCTV Feature on Grave Relocation in Hubei The scene moved in and out of this villager’s modest home, steadily folding into the story a wider cast of characters (construction officials, workers, and other members of the local community) and narrative scales (the local, regional, and finally national). In the culmination of the on-camera conversation, the local village representative moved through a series of realizations and statements, each met with the encouragement and approval of the government representative to his side. “When the state has to, so do you.” Ultimately, the broadcast arrived at the conclusion that, while it remained an imperative for the graves in the pathway of the South-North water diversion project to be relocated, the primary point of contention was not relocation itself—but of grave relocation reimbursement levels that remained too low. Another way individual grave relocations garnered national media attention was through the historical memory of the specific bodies in question. A profound, historical charisma surrounds, for example, the graves of veterans of the Long March (1934-35), the Eight-Year War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-45), and the Chinese Civil War (1945-49). In Fall 2010, the grandson of deceased General Feng Zhanhai (冯占海 1899-1963), known as “Jilin’s No.1 War of Resistance Hero” (吉林抗战第一人 Jilin Kangzhan di’yiren) expressed outrage to reporters after discovering online that his grandfather’s grave was being demolished.[20] On October 8, 2010, a Chinese netizen uploaded a video showing Feng’s grave being dug up, with the lid of the coffin open to the sky.[21] The land around his body, it was soon discovered, had been purchased by the Jilin Hanxing Corporation (吉林瀚星集团 Jilin Hanxing jintuan) for the purposes of constructing a golf course.[22] Undocumented Migration (of the Dead) The phenomenon of grave relocation in contemporary China forms a wide and complex spectrum, with the stories of Zhoukou and General Feng Zhanhai representing only two extremes. The greater part of this spectrum encompasses hundreds if not thousands of less-well-known, local-level initiatives that together account for the majority of China’s millions of relocated corpses in recent years. The larger story of grave relocation is a fragmented one, involving the exhumation of perhaps 5 graves in one locale, 20,000 in another, 400 in still another, and so forth. As compared to the examples outlined in the preceding section, these relocations constituted what might be termed the “undocumented migration” of the dead in contemporary China. In order to capture this part of the historical spectrum, a team of researchers and I dedicated approximately six years to developing the first-ever geodatabase of grave relocations in contemporary China, compiling thousands of scattered records into a unified dataset.[23] It is important to note briefly how this preliminary database was constructed, and what opportunities are available for the future. When official Chinese state regulations are observed, grave relocations follow a standard protocol. First, authorities publish an obligatory “Notice of Grave Relocation” (qianfen qishi 迁坟启事 or qianfen tongzhi 迁坟通知) in the local press, as in a notice from 2010 pertaining to the relocation of a collection of graves located in Liupanshui, Guizhou (Figure 5). Figure 5. Grave relocation notice. Liupanshui Daily (Liupanshui ribao) Feb 1 2010. The grave relocation notice typically specifies the affected areas, the process by which families can receive (often inadequate) reimbursement for the expenses of relocation, and the deadline by which such claims must be filed. Because the notices are published in local-level media outlets, and are directed toward local readers, the locations of affected gravesites are described in precise terms, yet in phrasings that often depend on firsthand knowledge of the areas in question. For example, a Grave relocation notice might list the affected area using the following description: “All graves in the area south up to the intersection of X and Y road, north to the reservoir, east up until the overpass, and west until the highway.”[24] To understand which reservoir, overpass, or highway is being referred to, one needs local-level familiarity. Owing to these local notifications, baseline documentary evidence of China’s funeral reform program is ample, widely available, and yet scattered among thousands of local media outlets. A vast and significant archive—containing rich data in which the fuller picture of China’s funeral reform movement is preserved—has simply been waiting to be constituted.[25] The Contemporary Chinese Deathscape As the database began to take shape, and in particular as datapoints began to be mapped in space, patterns began to emerge that were suggestive of profound transformations in contemporary China’s economy, society, and territoriality—patterns that would have been difficult (and perhaps impossible) to detect had I focused exclusively on the better-documented, more extreme examples of relocation outlined above (an approach that would not have required the building of a database, but merely the compilation of easily available media accounts and related materials). Spatial Logics of the Chinese Deathscape One such pattern pertains to what can be thought of as the spatial logics of China’s contemporary deathscape—and, in particular, the relationship between the Chinese deathscape and contemporary economic development. When analyzed collectively, it became clear that grave relocations serve as barometers that indicate, not merely the growth and expansion of population centers in a general sense, but also the more precise directionality of such expansions into periurban and rural areas. Insofar as grave relocations have often constituted a first wave of preparation for construction projects, real estate development, and more—that is, the exhumation of corpses have been undertaken as preparation for subsequent construction efforts—they help us understand the spatial logics according to which administrators and local party authorities have laid the groundwork for Chinese developmentalism at the local level. In the region surrounding Yichang in western Hubei Province, for example, a local-level grave relocation initiative in the town of Wujia sat right at the cusp separating zones of higher and lower population density, auguring this population center’s coming extension in a southeasterly direction along the river. In Jiangsu Province, as well, a scatter plot of local-level grave relocation initiatives foretold the coming leap of the population-dense greater Changzhou area over the Yangzi River into the northern-bank areas of Dongxing, Xinqiao, and Shengci, among others. One of the most dramatic examples of this phenomenon is found in the province of Zhejiang, in the area southeast of Yiwu. Here a veritable belt of grave relocations extended along the southeastern front of population density, from the northernmost town of Wancang, where 37 bodies were removed; through Shanghu (210 bodies); Yaochuan (31 bodies); Anwen (187 bodies); Shenze (416 bodies); and finally the southernmost town of Xinwo (69 bodies). Whereas the number of relocations in each of these six towns was modest when considered in isolation—ranging from thirty to a maximum of just over four hundred—when viewed together the constellation of these relocations offers a clear snapshot of the directionality and temporality of population movement in the region. As broached earlier, the history of the dead in contemporary China is inseparable from the history of living, if we understand the scale at which to conduct our analyses. The same phenomenon can be observed in the area surrounding Changde, where the township of Wuling was the site of 1,300 relocations in 2010—once again at the cusp of lower and higher population density areas, alerting us to specific ways the greater area of Changde was preparing to expand. Economic Logics of the Chinese Deathscape A second vital dimension of the contemporary Chinese deathscape relates to the emergent economic logics that have taken shape during the process of relocation. Whereas we might be squeamish about speaking of human remains using the language of “economies” and “resources,” it is precisely the calculated sterility of such vocabulary that alerts us to the charged, profoundly sensitive, dual nature of the relocation of graves in China. To insist upon humanizing the corpse, or to resist viewing grave relocation in aggregate forms that thereby privilege the logic of the state, is counterintuitively to lose site of the clinical and, for many, terrifying logics in which the human story of grave relocation is unavoidably situated. More specifically, human remains in contemporary China have become a profoundly lucrative, if peculiar, kind of semi-natural resource: a resource that, like others, must be excavated to unleash its value; a resource that, like other territorially embedded ones, concentrates unevenly across space; a resource that, like gemstones or perhaps archaeological artifacts, derives its worth socially and historically rather than through direct utility or application; and yet a resource that, unlike all of these other examples, occupies the boundary between two radically different systems of value—one which theorizes it in the abstract as a kind of “anti-resource” whose only assignable value is premised upon its removal; and another (or, in fact, multiple others) which reject such economic abstractions and insist upon its singularity and intense, personal significance. From one perspective, regions “populated” by the dead are potential goldmines, but only after these corpses have been removed. From another perspective, a grave holds a loved one, a family member, or a beloved historical figure whose “value” is inherent. To understand the value of a corpse in contemporary China, one must consider the tortuous chain of capitalization through which it travels. The most intensely lucrative phase is found in the beginning, with a state- and private-led development project initiating grave relocation in a given area. In the Hangu District 汉沽 of the city of Tianjin 天津市, for example, 37,801 corpses were relocated in 2006 with the goal of reallocating nearly ten thousand mu of land (6.7 square kilometers) for development use.[26] Since Hangu had become a focus of intensive foreign direct investment and a site where a number of Fortune 500 companies had already constructed facilities, and had been lauded as “China’s most investable industrial district for chemical and fossil fuels” (中国石油和化学工业最具投资价值园区 Zhongguo shiyou he huaxue gongye zuijutouzijiazhiyuanqu), local officials and entrepreneurs were undoubtedly willing to provide modest reimbursements for the relocation of graves—typically payments of anywhere from four hundred RMB at the low end to two thousand RMB at the highest—in order to inject the newly acquired territory into China’s red-hot industrial real estate market. The same profit incentives have motivated real estate developers throughout the country. In March 2012, a luxury residential and commercial development project in Fengyuan Township 灃源镇 of Sangzhi County 桑植县 in the province of Henan required the relocation of approximately three hundred graves identified as covering an area of thirty-two mu of land, or just over twenty-one thousand square meters.[27] Under the moniker of “Sangzhi Story” (桑植故事 Sangzhi gushi), and breaking ground in June of the same year, some 234 residential units would soon be installed, each commanding prices of 2,733 RMB per square meter, on average[28]—or approximately 164 thousand RMB per unit, if based upon the average Chinese home size of sixty square meters. If we calculate the territorial extent of these three hundred graves, based on the twenty-one thousand square meters that their removal was said to have liberated, we arrive at the figure of just over seventy square meters per grave. This, of course, is not to say that each grave was extremely large, but rather that through the particular way these graves were “scattered” (分散 fensan), as they were often described, they collectively commanded a disproportionately large span of territory. Once migrated into the economic calculus of luxury development, the value of each individual human corpse was thus profound—perhaps as much as two hundred thousand RMB per corpse, per year, when considering the value of the land that could be made available through its eviction.[29] The economic lifecycle of the relocated corpse did not end with this initial exhumation and relocation. The next phase of the capitalization process took shape in the destinations of the relocated corpses, whether within privately run cemeteries in the region, or in unofficial, negotiated spaces in the hinterland. In the former case, the cost of renting land in privately run cemeteries could prove profoundly expensive for relatives and equivalently lucrative for private cemetery operators. In 2006, due to the planned development of Hedong Industrial District (河东工业园区 Hedong gongyeyuanqu) in Nanfeng County 南丰县, Jiangxi Province, more than a thousand graves were dug up.[30] Tensions ensued, however, when it was discovered that Jihe Cemetery (吉鹤陵园 Jihe lingyuan), one of the few cemeteries in the area capable of housing the newly displaced cremated remains, was both a privately run firm, and reportedly used aggressive sales tactics to secure expensive plot rental agreements.[31] Similar controversy surrounded Changshengling Cemetery (常胜岭墓园 Changshengling muyuan), one of the few designated resettlement areas for more than ten thousand relocated bodies from the Xiangsihu New District 相思湖新区 Xiangsihu xinqu in the Xixiangtang district 西乡塘区 of Nanning.[32] In areas where cemeteries are unavailable or prohibitively expensive, relatives and community members of the migratory dead have often found themselves in asymmetric negotiations with local villagers offering sanctuary for their relocated graves in return for rental fees. Beginning in August 2010, government officials of the Du’an Yaozu Autonomous County (都安瑶族自治县) decreed that some 540 graves in areas around the Chengjiang River 澄江河 would need to be relocated to enable the development of “Hedong New District” (河东新区 Hedong xinqu). Each grave owner was to be reimbursed 1,800 RMB to cover the cost of relocation, as well as a land-use compensation fee at a rate of 56,782 RMB per mu.[33] Due to the absence of nearby cemeteries, however, villagers had little choice but to rebury family members on the landholdings of distant relatives in remote areas, or to negotiate lease agreements with rural mountain-dwellers at a cost of four to six thousand RMB per five-year period.[34] With reburial complete, the capitalization chain of grave relocation continues further. Following the relocation of the corpse, often in locations far away from one’s hometown, family members have little choice but to rely upon third parties to oversee and keep up the new grave sites—paying so-called “service fees” assessed on a monthly or yearly basis. In 2008, a subset of Nanjing residents was required to move family graves located in the way of a new railway station. Upon attempting to relocate these graves, one Mr. Zhang encountered local villagers who had been looking after the grave for a fee, and who thus regarded the forthcoming relocation as a loss of income. Before permitting the graves to be exhumed and moved to in Huangjinshan Public Cemetery (黄金山公墓 Huangjinshan gongmu), villagers reportedly requested 1,500 RMB in “service fees” (劳务费 laowufei) and cartons of upscale cigarettes, to offset future losses.[35] Still other intermediaries form part of this grave relocation economy. Fengshui or geomancy masters have been central to the grave relocation process, being in possession of the spiritual expertise to advise family members precisely when and under what conditions their family member should be relocated (so as to avoid misfortune and the wrath of the spiritual world). In a decidedly less spiritual direction, the Chinese deathscape has become a site on endemic corruption—something hardly surprising when accounting for the lucrative economy of death in the contemporary period.[36] Conclusion A final example returns us full circle, to the highway in Dunhuang and to the moment that first inspired this essay and this volume. In my examination of the relocated graves of Dunhuang, I would l learn that the area in the vicinity of the Mogao Caves UNESCO World Heritage Site (世界文化遗产敦煌莫高窟 Shijiewenhuayichan Dunhuang Mogaoku) had been the focus of grave relocations as early as 2006, a year prior to my visit.[37] With graves running alongside Foyemiaowan Road (佛爷庙湾路 Foye miaowanlu) and elsewhere, municipal planners considered them “aesthetically unpleasant,” and unbefitting a globally renowned tourist destination. The municipal government of Dunhuang issued the Series of Regulations to Preserve the Mogao Caves (甘肃敦煌莫高窟保护条例 Gansu Dunhuang Mogaku baohutiaoli), upon the basis of which approximately two thousand graves in the area were required to be moved—some to nearby destinations, into spatially rationalized plots, and some more distantly, to newly created cemeteries in the region. With a deadline of April 20, 2006, reimbursements of five hundred RMB per grave would be afforded families to cover the cost of exhumation. What is more, local officials reportedly initiated a series of consciousness-raising campaigns, circulating news about the new regulations through music and art performances and sketch comedy (小品 xiaopin). Grave relocations of a similar nature were undertaken in nine villages surrounding China’s northern city of Xi’an, once the capital of China’s Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui and Tang dynasties. In villages such as Sanqiao, Wuyi, and Cheliu, the motivations behind relocation were also not that of agricultural reclamation, nor the construction of luxury apartments, but rather to buttress China’s application process for world heritage site status for the Han dynasty Chang’an city wall (汉长安城 HanChang’an cheng). As in Dunhuang, the logic of heritage and memory pitted remarkably different scales against one another: the heritage of the family and the individual, against the heritage of the nation and the civilization as a whole. Here, then, we encounter one final logic of the contemporary Chinese deathscape, and one that serves as a fitting conclusion for this study: the pitting of the afterlives of the recently dead against those of the distant past. Because of the ever-diminishing amount of land in China that is available for the dead to occupy, the “recent dead” associated with unknown families have little or no chance of winning out in an increasingly acute competition with the graves and ruins whose significance is assigned civilizational importance. More than ever before, perhaps, the preservation of civilizational historical memory overrides that of the local and of the recent past. Not unlike its better-known counterpart, the one-child policy, grave relocation and funeral reform (binzang gaige 殡葬改革) are profoundly controversial initiatives crafted in response to China’s population crisis—in this case, the population of the dead rather than the living.[38] State and party authorities in concert with developers have ventured to redraw the map of the Chinese deathscape: to rationalize the spatial distribution of human remains, reduce land burial, and promote cremation, all in an attempt to overcome what has been referred to as “conflicts between the living and the dead over land resources.” In this great purge of the dead, China has ventured to become a hyper-alive state, wherein only the bare minimum of territorial resources would be afforded to the dead. It is no longer simply the disadvantageously located corpse that is understood to pose a problem to livelihood and to the living, but the very materiality and presence of dead bodies per se. If, then, China’s one-child policy has targeted domains of formidable power and intimacy—birth, the reproductive body, and descent—burial reform has targeted the no less potent realms of death, the body after life, and ancestry. Notes Source of image at the top of this essay: “The Dead Edge Out the Living” 死人挤活人, by Jiang Fan 江帆. NIH/U.S. National Library of Medicine. The author wishes to thank the many scholars whose critical feedback was invaluable during the writing and revision of this piece. In particular, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to Ruth Toulson, Rebecca Nedostup, Peter Carroll, Nicole Barnes, Rob Weller, Michael Puett, Huwy-min Lucia Liu, Weiting Guo, James Evans, Roshanna Sylvester, Li Jin, Tom Foster, and of course, my fellow contributors, Christian Henriot, Jeff Snyder-Reinke, David McClure, and Glen Worthey, among many others. I am also indebted to the editors at Stanford University Press— including Alan Harvey, Friederike Sundaram, and Jasmine Mulliken—for helping to see this project through to completion. I had the good fortune to be able to workshop this piece at a number of conferences and invited talks, and I am deeply grateful to everyone who attended and for all the constructive criticism I received. My thanks go to colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, Boston College, Harvard University, UC Berkeley, and Depaul University. This volume was made possible through extensive, long-term support from the Stanford University Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, the Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Research, and the Stanford Humanities Center, among others. Lastly and most importantly, I am deeply indebted to the tremendously talented group of Stanford University undergraduates and graduate students whose contributions to this project have been vital from the very beginning. A complete list of students and supporters can be found in the “People” page. [1] The literature on death, burial, and the sociopolitical lives of human remains in other parts of the world is both rich and fascinating. See, for example, Katherine Verdery, The Political Lives of Dead Bodies (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999); Sarah Tarlow, Bereavement and Commemoration: An Archaeology of Mortality (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999); Robert Pogue Harrison, The Dominion of the Dead (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); Natacha Aveline-Dubach, ed., Invisible Population: The Place of the Dead in East Asian Megacities (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2012); and the award-winning recent work by Thomas M. Laqueur, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015). For groundbreaking work on China, see Andrew B. Kipnis, “Governing the Souls of Chinese Modernity,” Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 7, no. 2 (2017): 217-238; and Zahra Newby and Ruth Toulson, ed., The Materiality of Mourning: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2018). Readers are also encouraged to keep an eye out for forthcoming work by Ruth Toulson and Rebecca Nedostup. [2] Fu Xiaowei, “Societal Knowledge Disputes Found in Zhoukou’s Funeral Reform Campaign[周口平坟中的社会知识分歧],” Changjiang ribao, November 27, 2012; “Zhoukou Funeral Reforms Challenge ‘Beautify China’ Political Campaign[周口平坟复耕考验美丽中国],” Qiaobao, November 24, 2012. [3] Key party and state officials at this time included Kong Xuemei 孔雪梅, a civil servant from the Zhoukou Bureau of Land Resources, who refuted such accusations; Liu Guolian 刘国连, vice-mayor of Zhoukou; and Xu Guang 徐光, party secretary of the Zhoukou City Committee. [4] “Zhoukou, Henan Initiates Large-Scale Funeral Reform Campaign, Relocates 2 Million+ Graves [河南周口开展大规模平坟复耕 迁坟200多万座],” Tengxun xinwen, November 4, 2012. [5] “Account of Zhoukou’s Funeral Reforms [周口平坟复耕记],” Shandong kejibao, December 3, 2012. [6] Ba Fuqiang, “In Zhuji Village, Shangshui County, Officials Solve Funeral Reform Issues with ‘Harmonious’ Solutions [商水县朱集村:和协破解平坟复耕难题],” Henan ribao nongcunban, August 8, 2012. [7] Meng Xiangchao, “Proof of Grave Digging Required for Officials to Go to Work in Fugou County, Zhoukou [周口扶沟县干部上班凭平坟证明],” Xinjingbao, November 23, 2012. The name of the daughter-in-law was Luo Junli 罗军丽 and the son-in-law He Hongting 何洪庭. [8] Ibid. [9] “Zhoukou Funeral Reform Campaign Also Differentiates between Government Officials and Civilians [周口平坟也官民有别],” Jinan shibao, November 27, 2012. [10] Ye Biao, “Account of Zhoukou’s Funeral Reforms [周口平坟复耕记],” Nanfang zhoumo, November 22, 2012. [11] “Zhoukou Uses Farmland for Graves after Grave Relocation, Charges Owners Fees for Resettlement [周口平坟后又圈占耕地建公墓 向迁坟户收墓穴费],” Wangyi xinwen, December 5, 2012; Funeral reform progress from the Zhoukou government (周口市殡葬改革工作简报 Zhoukoushi binzanggaige gongzuo jianbao) [12] Meng Xiangchao, “Proof of Grave Digging Required for Officials to Go to Work in Fugou County, Zhoukou.” [13] Ibid. [14] Ibid.; Ye, “Account of Zhoukou’s Funeral Reforms”; Wang Xinghe, “Biggest Failure in Zhoukou’s Funeral Reforms Was to Skip Court Jurisdictions [周口平坟跳过法院是程序败笔],” Jiancha ribao, November 23, 2012. [15] “Zhoukou Funeral Reform Campaign Also Differentiates between Government Officials and Civilians,” Jinan shibao, November 27, 2012; “Zhoukou’s Funeral Reforms Accused of Forcefully Increasing Land for Business-Use, Local Officials Refuse to Respond; Villagers Confirm That Officials Built Public Cemeteries around Own Ancestral Graves [周口平坟被指为增加商业用地当地无回应,另有村民证实厅官祖坟圈入公墓],” Lanzhou chenbao, November 27, 2012. [16] Zhang Liwei, “Local Funeral Reforms Should Not Be Violently Executed [地方平坟运动不应过于粗暴],” Shiji jingji baodao, November 27, 2012. [17] Ye, “Account of Zhoukou’s Funeral Reforms.” [18] Meng, “Proof of Grave Digging Required for Officials to Go to Work in Fugou County, Zhoukou”; Yang Yi, “Changsha Resident’s Ancestral Grave Removed Without Consent, Grave Digger Claims It Was for Road Construction [长沙市民未被告知祖坟被迁走 挖墓者称迁坟是为修路],” Fazhi wang, April 1, 2013. [19] 走基层: 南水北调. 移民搬迁拆房难迁坟更难, May 31, 2012, broadcast. [20] “Feng Zhanhai, a Famed Soldier from the Sino-Japanese War Faces Destruction of His Grave Descendants: Property Developers Should’ve At Least Told Us about Grave Relocation [抗日名将冯占海墓碑被推倒 家属:开发商至少应该通知我们迁坟],” Dushi shibao, October 9, 2010. [21] Wang Jing, “Netizen Uploads Video Showing Army General’s Grave Being Destroyed, Reporter Finds On-Site Worker Who Claimed It Was a Mistake during Grave Relocation [有网友公布将军墓被毁视屏,记者碾转找到当时施工的工人得知—— 工人迁坟时 误挖将军墓],” Chengshi wanbao, October 9, 2010. [22] Being acutely aware of the power of the small numbers, state administrators and real estate developers have themselves attempted to co-opt this power in order to neutralize it. See, for example, Gao Jian, “388 Martyrs’ Graves Will Be Relocated to Shengshuiyu [388座零散烈士墓将统迁圣水峪],” Beijing xinwen, November 4, 2013; and Hu Wenfeng, “772 Martyrs’ Graves in Lai’an County Find ‘New Home’ [来安772座零散烈士墓迁“新家”],” Zhongan zaixian, April 1, 2012. [23] The author wishes to express special thanks to Karl Grossner, Chuan Xu, Mona Huang, Grace Geng, Xingguo Chen, Celena Allen, and Matt Bryant. [24] The typical time limit is thirty days, but shorter ones occasionally appear. A January 2007 notice in Nanning City read: “If no one has responded within three days of this notice, the grave will be considered abandoned and we will contact the relevant bureau to take care of it.” It is not uncommon for people who do not read the newspaper on the day a notification is posted to learn of what has happened after the fact, perhaps when visiting the cemetery only to find the grave of a loved one missing. [25] Owing to the precise, repetitive vocabulary that surrounds grave relocation—featuring rare terms such as “grave flattening” (平坟)—there was a chance that such relocation notices would have been eminently suited for natural language processing (NLP), web scraping, and machine learning techniques. This was an avenue that the team explored, but ultimately did not pursue. The original thinking was: having reached a critical mass of entries in the initial, data entry-based database of grave relocations, the scaled-up phase of the project could then transition to automated processes to sift through tens of millions of characters of data and extract relevant materials at significantly higher speeds. It is also worth noting that the terminology of relocation has morphed considerably over the past twenty years as well, which presents yet another challenge in our ongoing effort to locate, document, and analyze low-profile cases. Whereas the early years of the campaign centered on terms such as “grave relocation” (qianfen) and “grave flattening” (pingfen), a proliferation of euphemisms has swollen the discourse. Neologisms include “zero-grave-ification” (wufenhua), “grave rationalization” (zhengfen), “greening” (lühua), campaigns against “visual pollution” (视觉污染 shijue wuran), and more. In addition to presenting challenges, however, iterations in terminology also offer rich and profound interpretive potential, insofar as they themselves reflect efforts by entrepreneurs and state-party administrators to respond flexibility to the shifting politics of the campaign. [26] “Thirty Thousand Graves Relocated in Exchange for Approximately Ten Thousand Mu of Land [迁坟三万座腾地近万亩],” Zhongguo huanjingbao, February 24, 2006. [27] Tang Guanhua, “Report on Grave Relocation Complaints Related to the ‘Sangzhi County Story’ Project Development [“桑植故事”项目迁坟选址信访事项的情况调查],” Sangzhixian fengyuanzhen renminzhengfu wang, March 19, 2012. [28] Real Estate Price Information for “Sangzhi Story.”. [29] When contemplating the scale of profit from relocating graves, the motives of local state officials and developers become more readily comprehensible. So, too, does the intensity of local responses, as in the case of the “Sangzhi Story” itself. On March 14, a discussion between locals and officials ended in violence, with altercations between local citizens and representatives of the township. [30] “Nanfeng, Jiangxi Forces Relocation of More Than a Thousand Graves [江西南丰强制迁坟一千余座],” Sohu, October 31, 2010. [31] Ibid. The government offered grave owners only eight hundred RMB in grave relocation compensation, and no compensation for eminent domain usage of the land itself. [32] Jia Jingwei, “Designated Grave Resettlement Location Accused of Being a For-Profit Business, Nanning ‘Changshengling Cemetery’ Deemed Illegal [迁坟安置点被指对外经营 南宁常胜岭墓园乃非法],” Guangxi xinwenwang, April 16, 2012. [33] Tang Yuke, “Du’an County Relocated Graves Find Difficulties in ‘Resettlement’ [都安540座迁坟遭遇落户难],” Hechi wang, December 21, 2011. [34] Ibid. [35] Zeng Hao and Yang Jing, “Villagers Earn up to 100,000 RMB Per Family From ‘Grave Relocation Service Fees’” [“迁坟劳务费”村民一户能赚10万], Dongfang weibao, March 5, 2008. [36] Dong Wanyu, “Grave Owners Scam Grave Relocation Compensation Fees at Huangjinshan Public Cemetery [有人骗领黄金山迁坟补偿款],” Yangzi wanbao, March 21, 2008; Zhao Wen, “Village CCP Secretary Scams Millions of RMB as ‘Grave Relocation Fees’ [图文:村支书冒领迁坟款敛财百万元],” Chutian jinbao, September 9, 2010; Zhao Wen, “Village CCP Secretary Scams Millions of RMB as ‘Grave Relocation Fees’ [村支书冒领迁坟款敛财百万元],” Chutian jinbao, September 9, 2010; Luo Jianan and Liu Taijin, “Xijian County Village Director Jailed for Pocketing Grave Relocation Compensation Fees [侵占迁坟补偿款新建县一村主任获刑],” Jiangxi fazhibao, March 17, 2010. [37] Zhang Weixian, “Citizens Respond Positively to Grave Relocation Campaign, Bring Life Back to Dunhuang’s Mogao Caves [市民响应号召迁坟 敦煌莫高窟保护区焕生机]” Zhongguo wenwubao, March 31, 2006. [38] Susan Greenhalgh, Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng’s China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008). Colophon Grapl, the Graves “Platform” David McClure & Glen Worthey Massachusetts Institute of Technology & Stanford University Essay DOI: 10.21627/2019cd/dmgw The Chinese Deathscape is built on a set of technologies that we’ve come to call Grapl, which is short for “Graves platform,” and is evocative of our attempts to grapple with the many nuances of spatio-textual publication. The interface (which, in spite of its name, we hesitate to call a “platform”; see below) was developed as a project of the Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Research (CIDR), a division of the Stanford Libraries. Grapl was custom-designed to host the particular research undertaken by Stanford Professor Thomas S. Mullaney that is presented in The Chinese Deathscape; it was later expanded to include the work of colleagues from around the world, including Christian Henriot of Aix-Marseille Université and Jeffrey Snyder-Reinke of the College of Idaho. These scholars were inspired not only by the phenomenon of grave relocation in modern China, but also by the possibilities offered by the deeply integrated, data-enhanced, interactive map-based publication platform that we had developed in collaboration with Mullaney. On Dev Relocation in Contemporary Digital Humanities Grapl is largely the creation of digital humanities software developer (and an author of this colophon essay) David McClure, who came from the University of Virginia Scholars’ Lab in 2014 to join Stanford University and the CIDR team. [1] While at Scholars’ Lab, McClure worked as lead developer on the popular and versatile map-based suite of tools for Omeka (itself developed at the George Mason University Center for History and New Media) called Neatline. At the level of interaction design and intent, Grapl flows directly out of the work that McClure did on Neatline between 2011 and 2014. Neatline provides a general-purpose mapping and exhibit application designed to meet the generic presentational needs of a wide variety of digital humanities projects. But in actual use, these scholarly projects have often included some sort of long-form narrative that was intended to accompany the map. Most commonly this accompanying text has been something like a journal article or a book chapter; at other times it has been something less formal, like a blog post. But rarely, if ever, has Neatline been used as a companion for a book-length text. The combination of images, maps, and longer-form text always leads to some awkwardness: How best to integrate map-based digital exhibits with long-form narrative? In the past, most authors have simply published the two entities separately, using some sort of project overview page that links to each component individually. But this often seems like a subpar solution. The division between the text (with its extended argument) and the map (with its geocoded data or primary source materials) is awkward: rarely is it feasible for the reader to read the prose narrative and engage with the interactively mapped digital component of the project at the same time. Especially in cases where the textual portion of a project makes close reference to the interactive map, the result is a fragmented, disconnected reading experience. Hypertext links, for all their power, are essentially paths to elsewhere—not integrations. Popup windows, for all their immediacy, obscure even as they illustrate. What is really needed is actually very modest: simply some way to “quote” the map more directly in a text, in much the same way that a literary scholar, for example, can quote a novel or a poem by embedding its text directly within that of the scholarly argument. Such quotation is a fundamental building block of scholarly communication—a kind of scholarly primitive that cuts across many forms of interpretive work in the humanities and social sciences, and one of the most basic ways that we draw connections between our arguments and their evidence; it is the essential, vital link between primary and secondary sources. But if the object of study is a map (or is something mapped), rather than another text, there has been no equivalent way to seamlessly include, reference, or even just directly point to it from the text. One can describe the map (and its features), or summarize it, or include snippets from it, in the way a film scholar might narrate a plot point or reproduce a still image. But this still feels less than ideal: not only is the extent of the “quoted” object greatly reduced (a reduction that may be perfectly acceptable in textual quotation, after all); more importantly, its dimensionality and thus even its very essence are reduced. Its visual aspects are impoverished or elided; its temporal aspects are frozen in a snapshot; its exploratory possibilities are truncated. Thus, in the abstract, our principal task in creating Grapl was to integrate fluidly the two-dimensional space of a map (or even its three-dimensional space, if we count the interactive, temporal component) into the one-dimensional axis of a textual narrative: to allow fully fledged, rich quotation of one medium within another, differently dimensioned one. These challenges eventually led to the development of an add-on feature for Neatline called Neatline Text, which made it possible, in a very simple way, to connect sections of a text document interactively with objects plotted on the map in a Neatline exhibit. Neatline Text was not especially sophisticated, and rather more “bolted on” than well-integrated into Neatline; in any case, it was intended more as a proof of concept than as a fully formed application. Grappling with Text and Space The Grapl platform takes this idea and builds it out into a fully functional (though still exploratory) reading environment appropriate for geospatial scholarship. As in Neatline Text, the author of an essay in Grapl is able to wrap individual paragraphs, sentences, clauses, or words in simple HTML tags that, when encountered by the Grapl Javascript application, connect a particular span of text with an object or point on the map. When the reader hovers the cursor on this marked span of text, a line is dynamically drawn to the corresponding location on the map; and when clicked, the map smoothly animates to the linked location at an appropriate, author-defined zoom level. Beyond these simple, one-to-one connections, though, Grapl also enables experimentation with higher-level interactions between the text and the map. To augment the granular linkages between individual word sequences and spatial locations, we wanted to provide a less granular, more schematic connection between the narrative and broader “regions” on the map. In Grapl, larger sections of the narrative—for example, a group of three to four paragraphs, or even an entire section of an essay—can be linked to entire, author-defined regions of the map, which are displayed as boxes subtly overlaid onto the map, with a title that often mirrors the section title in the text and is visibly connected with a dynamically drawn line. These two-dimensional section markers provide a high-level “railing” that guides the reader both as she moves through the text narrative and as she surveys the map. When the text is scrolled to a different section, leaving the map focused elsewhere than on the spatial region corresponding to the current section of text, a clear but unobtrusive tooltip is displayed prompting the reader to click and transition the map to the appropriate region. And, if the map is moved far enough away from the region assigned to the currently visible section of the text, the reader will again be prompted to “re-sync” the map when the cursor next hovers over the text. This set of features speaks to a core goal of Grapl: to strike as even a balance as possible between giving the reader freedom to explore a data-rich spatial environment at will, and providing a clear, simple, recommended path through the spatial and data content which is linked clearly, but subtly, to the content and organization of the accompanying textual narrative. Grapl always tries to make it easy to follow the recommended path—by clicking either on linked brief spans of text or on larger-scale sections of the text as they come into view—but, unlike some other spatial reading platforms (e.g., those designed primarily for journalists), it doesn’t enforce a specific path through the map by automatically updating the map state according the scroll offset of the text. Grapl’s goal is to make it easy both to follow the recommended route and to leave the marked path for more personalized exploration; it also, of course, enables the reader easily to pick up the narrative trail again. A Threefold Way: Data, Map, and Long-Form Text Unlike some other spatial reading platforms, Grapl also tries to avoid compromising the structural integrity of the narrative text. Many digital reading interfaces break up or fragment the text in different ways—for example, displaying it as a series of isolated paragraphs that scroll into view under various conditions. In a way that we feel is more appropriate for an academic context, Grapl instead instantiates the view that regular, unbroken, long-format text is still an ideal technology for presenting complex, non-trivial scholarly arguments; thus it attempts only to enhance and integrate the text with the interactive map, rather than to change wholesale the experience of reading a scholarly narrative. By the same token, Grapl seeks to take greater advantage not only of the map per se, but also—and particularly—of mapped data: the richly informative set of data points that serve not just as supporting evidence for the scholarly argument, but also, in a sense, represent the core of the project as a computational undertaking. In the case of The Chinese Deathscape, of course, this is data about grave relocations: their scope (counted in numbers of graves), the dates they occurred, and, most crucially, their locations—as illustrated in this example from Mullaney’s essay: a total of 2.5 million grave removals during 2012 in dozens of townships in Henan Province. This rich subset of data, comprising a large number of mass grave removals across the province, and documented in individual notices (which can all be seen in the “Graves nearby” section of each record), is mapped and visualized in a manner that highlights its significance and scope; its interactivity leads to more exploration, beyond a simple text with a static illustration, which would serve mainly to tidy up the “2.5 million grave removals” statement, and greatly lessen its impact. Although Grapl in its current form is tightly bound to its subject matter and geographic focus (which will be apparent in many aspects of the illustrations used for this very essay), it is our hope that the software might later serve for other sets of geospatial, temporal, and otherwise quantifiable and computable data points (though note the discussion below of why we can’t rightly call Grapl a “platform”). Unlike some map-based storytelling platforms that use maps primarily as illustrations of a text, or those that present maps primarily as exhibit pieces and text snippets primarily as captions, Grapl is intended as a unified, coherent threefold path linking long-form scholarly text, data-driven maps, and richly mapped data—a framework for the publication of both texts and datasets, held tightly together by the spatial logic of the map. Cycles and Recycles In an ideal world, Grapl would be amenable and appropriate not only to the depiction and analysis of Chinese grave removals, but also, for example, to the mapping of Raskolnikov’s crimes, punishments, and perambulations around Saint Petersburg, or to a rich depiction of Leopold Bloom’s odyssey around Dublin through the hours of June 16, 1904. It would be flexible enough to present richly mapped and deeply explorable cradle-to-grave (-to-grave-relocation?) biographies, or to host long-form narratives bolstered with interactive maps that reveal the time and space of any other historical process: of troop movements in battle, of national borders shifting in time, of explorations and crusades and peregrinations. In fact, we believe that it is suitable for any of these uses; we simply haven’t tried any of them! But we found, as we prepared The Chinese Deathscape for publication and incorporated additional scholarship into Grapl, that we had in fact left some things out: although we initially designed Grapl as a focused, lightweight framework for Mullaney’s rich archive of point data (representing gravesite removals, their numbers and geographies, the notices that served as source data, etc.), we had not made allowances for higher-dimensional geospatial features such as lines and polygons, which, it turned out, were necessary to represent the spatial data required by some of the other contributions in this collective work. That is not necessarily to say that not including support for lines/polygons was a mistake! In principle, it’s generally best to start simple and expand as needed. Going forward, however, the ability to incorporate a wide range of spatial data formats would of course be essential for a complete textual/geospatial platform—but, given time and resource constraints, this first cut of Grapl was designed around one particular data set. We were able to adapt it, post-factum, to interact with and display polygons, but the current solution is, we admit, inelegant and provisional. The “Graves Platform” as Not Quite a Platform In many ways, these difficulties reflect a fundamental challenge of trying to build frameworks rather than project-specific solutions, which is what Grapl has (so far) turned out to be. Reusable frameworks need to provide a broad set of features to support diverse use cases—but these use cases can be difficult to anticipate in advance, and large feature sets are often at odds with the engineering imperative to build focused, reliable solutions that do one thing well. Perhaps the best way to manage this tension is to allow specific projects to drive new development in a bottom-up fashion, in the way that successful projects like Omeka have evolved in response to concrete user requirements. In this sense, our hope is that the current pain-points can be taken as guideposts for where to take the project next. Beyond expanding the range of supported formats and data types, one might also imagine incorporating not a historical or time-based map, but rather a different sort of two-dimensional image—say, a painting, or microscopy, or an architectural design—which can also serve as canvasses for location- (or coordinate-) based data; is no less amenable to long-form scholarly analysis; and no less dependent on “rich quotation of one medium within another” than a map-based historical phenomenon like grave reform. Such applications, while easily imaginable, are certainly not within the realm of Grapl’s current capabilities. But we’re pleased with the work we’ve done, with the challenges we’ve overcome in doing it, and with the small improvements we’ve tried to make in the context of the already outstanding publication platforms in the digital humanities world. We hope that Grapl will be seen not as a competitor to those platforms (upon which we ourselves certainly still rely, like many others in the digital humanities community), but rather as a set of contributions, both technical and conceptual, to the digital scholarship ecosystem. Finally, we’re exceedingly happy to have developed Grapl in a long and intense collaboration with such a thoughtful, innovative, and engaged scholar as Tom Mullaney, and in support of such fascinating works of scholarly inquiry—by both him and his coauthors—into the rich and heretofore untapped histories of The Chinese Deathscape. Notes Source of image at the top of this essay: Stanford University by Arthur Lites. Courtesy of Stanford University Archives. [1] Following a nearly identical personnel relocation, the 2017 pre-publication work on Grapl and The Chinese Deathscape was done (in part) by yet another CIDR developer, Scott Bailey, who had likewise come to Stanford from the University of Virginia Scholars’ Lab, where he had also worked on Neatline. Scott joined Javier de la Rosa in this work. See the “People” page for more on the team behind this present work.