Suicide and Justice
A Chinese Perspective
By Fei Wu
Routledge – 2009 – 216 pages
Sociological and psychiatric studies on suicide based on Western ideas about human nature see suicide as social or individual disorder. Suicide in China, however, should be understood differently.
By analyzing 30 cases, Wu Fei studies the dynamics of suicide in terms of family politics and local psychology and finds that suicide is committed when a power balance is broken in the games of power in the family. Unlike public injustice, domestic injustice is not only closely related to, but also often strengthened by emotional interdependence. Suicide and depression are different responses to the same situation of domestic injustice. The book also covers suicide as perceived by rural people outside the family; how suicide is viewed in politics; suicide prevention and studies of suicide in Chinese modern intellectual history.
Showing that suicide in China is not mainly caused by too traditional values, but reflects a dilemma in Chinese modernity, this book should be of interest to students and scholars in Chinese studies; sociology; anthropology and suicide studies.
"This book is the most serious ethnographic study of suicide to date. Its conclusions challenge but also complement psychiatric research. It is also an important contribution to the study of what is disappearing in rural China today. A real achievement." Arthur Kleinman, Harvard University
Part I: Introduction 1. Suicide as a Chinese Problem 2. Two Philosophies about Suicide Part II: Domestic Justice 3. Familial Love 4. Family Politics 5. Fortune Part III: Human Dignity 6. Suicide and Madness 7. Gambling for Qi 8. Face 9. Thinking Through Part IV: Conclusion: Suicide as a Public Affair 10. Public Justice 11. Making Good Luck
Wu Fei is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Peking University.