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New publication: “Chinese Law: Knowledge, Practice, and Transformation, 1530s-1950s” (2015)

A new book on late imperial and modern Chinese law and history, edited by Li Chen and Madeleine Zelin, and contributed by a dozen ISCLH members, has just been released. Here is the information about its contents and how to order it if you are interested.

The twelve case studies in Chinese Law: Knowledge, Practice and Transformation, 1530s to 1950s, edited by Li Chen and Madeleine Zelin, open a new window onto the historical foundation and transformation of Chinese law and legal culture in late imperial and modern China. Their interdisciplinary analyses provide valuable insights into the multiple roles of law and legal knowledge in structuring social relations, property rights, popular culture, imperial governance, and ideas of modernity; they also provide insight into the roles of law and legal knowledge in giving form to an emerging revolutionary ideology and to policies that continue to affect China to the present day.

The editors hope that this will be one of a new series of books focusing on Chinese law and history from the global community of ISCLH. Its contributors include Jennifer Altehenger, Daniel Asen, Li Chen, Bryna Goodman, Weiting Guo, Jianpeng Deng, Zhao Ma, Janet Theiss, Margaret Wan, Yu Wang, Yanhong Wu, Madeleine Zelin, Ting Zhang, and Taisu Zhang.

Here is more information about the editors, the book’s table of contents, and relevant links to the book:

Biographical Note of the Editors:

Li Chen, J.D. (Illinois), Ph.D. (Columbia), is Assistant Professor of History and Sociolegal Studies at University of Toronto. His publications on law and history include Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes: Sovereignty, Justice, and Transcultural Politics (Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2015)

Madeleine Zelin, Ph.D. (UC Berkeley), is Dean Lung Professor of Chinese Studies at Columbia University. She has published monographs, translations and articles on China, including The Merchants of Zigong: Industrial Enterprise in Early Modern China (Columbia University Press, 2005)


All those interested in the history of Chinese legal culture and history or the transformation of late imperial Chinese society, law, culture, and politics, or comparative law and politics. 所有对中国法律史、传统法律文化、法律现代化, 以及明清和近现代中国的社会、政治和文化变迁感兴趣的人士和学者。

The Book’s Table of Contents:

Introduction: Ways of Rethinking Chinese Law and History – Li Chen and Madeleine Zelin

Part I. Meaning and Practice of Law

Chapter 1. Classifications of Litigation and Implications for Qing Judicial Practice – Jianpeng Deng

Chapter 2. Kinship Hierarchies and Property Institutions in Late-Qing and Republican China – Taisu Zhang

Chapter 3. Social Practice and Judicial Politics in “Grave Destruction” Cases in Qing Taiwan, 1683-1895 – Weiting Guo

Chapter 4. Elite Engagement with the Judicial System in the Qing and its Implications for Legal Practice and Principle – Janet Theiss

Chapter 5. “Law Is One Thing, and Virtue Is Another”: Vernacular Readings of Law and Legal Process in 1920s Shanghai – Bryna Goodman

Chapter 6. Wayward Daughters: Sex, Family, and Law in Early Twentieth-Century Beijing – Zhao Ma

Part II. Production and Application of Legal Knowledge

Chapter 7. The Community of Legal Experts in 16th- and 17th-Century China – Yanhong Wu

Chapter 8. Marketing Legal Information: Commercial Publications of the Great Qing Code, 1644-1911 – Ting Zhang

Chapter 9. Contestation over Legal Knowledge and Limits of Imperial Power in Qing China – Li Chen

Chapter 10. Court Case Ballads: Popular Ideals of Justice in Late Qing and Republican China – Margaret Wan

Chapter 11. Old Forensics in Practice: Investigating Suspicious Deaths and Administering Justice in Republican Beijing – Daniel Asen

Chapter 12. Simplified Legal Knowledge in the Early PRC: Explaining and Publishing the Marriage Law – Jennifer Altehenger

Relevant links:

From the press: If a university library purchases an e-copy of the book, all the individual students/faculty affiliated with the university can get a MyBook copy (which is a paperback with a generic cover) at $25 or EUR 25, depending on where they order the book. This MyBook copy is available now. Here is the link:



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