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L'infanticide, l'exposition d'enfants en Chine et l’évangélisation des missionnaires catholiques (1689-1840)

Abstract : This thesis deals with the phenomenon of infanticide and abandoned children in China from1689 to 1840, through the descriptions of the Catholic missionaries, and the evangelization ofchildren by the Jesuits and the priests of the Paris Foreign Missions. By comparing thedifferent visions of various sources, this study attempts to reveal the reality of thephenomenon and its reasons, its reactions and the actions taken by the Chinese authority, aswell as by the European missionaries. It also highlights the work of childhood and theimportance of baptism for these Catholic missionaries.By exploring a rich literature, we bring, in the first part, different points of view brought byCatholic missionaries, by other Western travelers, and by the Chinese scholars and mandarins.The missionaries' testimonies are meant to attract more resources to help these miserablechildren. The writings of British travelers show the superiority of Europeans versus "Chinesebarbarism". Small girls are the first victims of infanticide and exposure, which is explained bythe status of inferiority of women, and by a series of cyclical and structural causes. This partalso presents the organization of Chinese hospices by comparing it to that of Westernhospices through abundant Chinese sources, which are barely used by Westernhistoriography.Hoping to convert as many pagans as possible, these Catholic missionaries devotedthemselves to this work of baptism of moribund children. They cared first of all about thesesouls who, by escaping the limbo of the children, will eternally glorify the Lord. In thecontext of the prohibition of Christianity in China in the eighteenth century after the RitesControversies, they thought it would be more appropriate to recruit some catechists to baptizethe dying exposed children than to establish the Catholic hospices. The Christian women werean important force in this work as well. The situation has been changed after the Opium Wars.From the second half of the nineteenth century, the French mission was under the protectionof its state.The originality of this research is to bring together anthropology, gender history and religioushistory, and to insert the study into the historical context of the asian mission and the globalmission, as well as the process of colonization. We hope that this research will shed new lighton the image of China in the eyes of Europeans at the time of the expansion of Westerncivilization and, at the same time, that it will contribute to enriching the understanding of thedifference between Western Catholic culture and Chinese culture.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - 5:11:51 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 4:12:18 PM


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  • HAL Id : tel-03034426, version 1



Chenzhe Li. L'infanticide, l'exposition d'enfants en Chine et l’évangélisation des missionnaires catholiques (1689-1840). Histoire. Université Paul Valéry - Montpellier III, 2020. Français. ⟨NNT : 2020MON30004⟩. ⟨tel-03034426⟩



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