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The Lives of Chang and EngSiam's Twins in Nineteenth-Century America$
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Joseph Andrew Orser

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781469618302

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469618326.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

The Monster Now before Us

The Monster Now before Us

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction The Monster Now before Us
Source:
The Lives of Chang and Eng
Author(s):

Joseph Andrew Orser

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469618326.003.0001

This book tells the story of conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker, more famously known as the “Siamese twins.” Born in Siam in 1811, Chang and Eng were connected at the chest by a band of flesh and cartilage. At the age of eighteen, a British merchant and an American sea captain brought them to the United States and Europe to showcase their physical anomaly as part of a larger trade in freaks of nature and Oriental curiosities. In the 1830s, the twins traveled throughout the United States, Canada and Cuba, and across Britain and western Europe before settling in North Carolina as farmers. They obtained American citizenship, adopted the last name of Bunker, married white sisters, became slaveholders, and ended up siring at least twenty-one children between them. Throughout their lives in America, the brothers appeared to live normal lives, yet were labeled monsters by others. This book analyzes the social and cultural spaces occupied by Chang and Eng through the lens of monstrosity and links their experiences with nineteenth-century ideas of race, deformity, gender, and the politics of family and sexuality.

Keywords:   conjoined twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, Siamese twins, Chang and Eng, United States, North Carolina, monstrosity, race, deformity, sexuality

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