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New Publication: “Law in the Mongol and Post-Mongol World: The Case of Yuan China”

Please see below for information on a new article from member Macabe Keliher.

“Law in the Mongol and Post-Mongol World: The Case of Yuan China,” China Review International, volume 32, issue 2 (2018), pp. 107–25

Abstract: This essay takes up the case of one Mongol empire, Yuan China (1271–1368), and in doing so moves to highlight broader Eurasian trends. It looks at the specifics of a long-standing problem in Chinese history on women and law in China’s middle period, and Bettine Birge’s contribution to addressing this problem, especially in her new book on marriage and property law in the Yuan, Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan. The problem goes something like this: from approximately the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, existing laws and practices in China were challenged and revised, old codes were abrogated, and new understandings of social and political order were imposed. One of the most reverberating changes was in gender and property relations, where wives and daughters, who had steadily gained more access to property and unilateral divorce in the Song dynasty (960–1279), were subjected to new legal restrictions in the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing dynasties (1636–1912) that gave primacy to the agnate. One of the key questions is what happened and why. Birge’s research shows that the Mongol conquest and subsequent political developments in the Yuan dynasty were instrumental in this transformation.



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