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International Speaker Series: Rethinking Cultural Constructions of Law in East Asia





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2nd Intl Conference on Chinese Law and History, Beijing, July 15-16, 2017.

The Second International Conference on Chinese Law and History will be held in Beijing on July 15-16, 2017, organized by the International Society for Chinese Law and History (ISCLH) and the Institute of Ancient Legal Documents at the Chinese University of Law and Politics. Members of ISCLH will be eligible for attending the conference. More details will be provided soon. Presenters and other participants can pay their membership and registration fees by clicking here.

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Conference Registration

Dear colleagues,

Please use the drop-down menu below to choose and pay the applicable registration fee according to the range of your annual salary. Of course, for those with higher annual income, you are always welcome to make a donation to the Society when paying your membership fee (link here)
All conference participants must also be current members of ISCLH at the time of the conference. Please visit the Membership page of our Website to join the Society or renew your membership, including paying the membership fee. Please feel free to contact us if you have any question. Thank you very much for your support.

會議登記費根據會員年收入高低而定,請點擊下框右方箭頭選擇適合您收入水平的會費,再點擊Pay Now進入繳費頁面。如果您還不是學會會員或者會員身分已經過期,請再進入Membership頁面填好會員申請表或繳交會費。謝謝您的支持。所有繳費都可使用Paypal,Visa或Master信用卡支付。收據可在繳完費時直接打印。如果報銷需要特殊收據,請同學會秘書聯繫。

Conference registration fee based on income

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New Book: Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes: Sovereignty, Justice, and Transcultural Politics, by Li Chen (Columbia Univ. Press, 2016),

How were Chinese law and society imagined by American schoolchildren, French philosophers, Russian Sinologists, German missionaries, Dutch merchants, and British lawyers? What happened when agents of presumably dominant Western empires had to endure the humiliations and anxieties in maintaining the profitable but precarious relationship with China for more than two centuries? In Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes, Li Chen provides an interdisciplinary analysis of these related issues to explore the intersection of law, culture, and politics in the context of Sino-Western encounters approximately from the 1740s through the 1840s.
Utilizing a wide array of sources, Li Chen investigates the archival, popular, intellectual, and official aspects of Sino-Western relations during the formative century prior to 1843. He highlights the centrality of law to a number of significant events in Sino-Western encounters, and offers new perspectives on the origins of comparative Chinese law in the West, the First Opium War in 1839-42, and foreign extraterritoriality in China. This book also traces the dynamic forces and processes by which some of the most influential ideas of Sino-Western cultural and racial boundaries were created, contested, and normalized in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Critical reexamination of Sino-Western legal disputes, cultural borrowings, and negotiation over imperial interests and sovereignty during this period suggests that the history of early modern Sino-Western encounters was much more complicated and multifaceted than either the popular theory of the inevitable clash of civilizations or the earlier conception of Orientalism as a coherent and totalizing discourse of Western hegemony has led us to assume. The shifting balance of economic-political power profoundly shaped the formation and transformation of knowledge of Chinese law and society in different contact zones in places like China, India, and Euroamerican metropolises. Recovering the transformative, variegated, and sometimes contradictory roles of Chinese law in European “modernization” in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries also helps “provincialize” the subsequent Euroamericentric narratives of global modernity. In this empirically grounded, multidimensional study, Chen draws attention to the many under-analyzed moments and sites at which imperial ideology, national sovereignty, cultural tradition, or international order were structured or redefined. It speaks to ongoing debates on the history of sentimental imperialism, liberalism, humanism, international law, and identity politics.
More information about how to purchase the book is available at Columbia University Press, and the book is also available at Amazon

Li Chen is currently Associate Professor of history at the University of Toronto, founding president of the International Society for Chinese law and History, and member of the editorial board of Law and History Review. Besides a number of publications, he is also a co-editor (with Madeleine Zelin) of Chinese Law: Knowledge, Practice and Transformation, 1530s-1950s (Brill, 2015), available here.

More information about the author and his research interests and publications is available here

Table of contents:
1. Imperial Archives and Historiography of Western Extraterritoriality in China
2. Translation of the Qing Code and Colonial Origins of Comparative Chinese Law
3. Chinese Law in the Formation of European Modernity
4. Sentimental Imperialism and the Global Spectacle of Chinese Punishments
5. Law and Empire in the Making of the First Opium War
List of Abbreviations

Keywords: Chinese law, legal history, legal orientalism, law and empire, comparative legal studies, colonialism, extraterritoriality, Sir George Thomas Staunton, translation, Qing Code, Chinese penal code, transcultural politics, contact zone, imperialism, legality of empire, legal formation of empire, imperial formation of law, origins of extraterritoriality, extraterritoriality in China, unequal treaties, the Opium War, Sino-Western relations, sentimentalism, sentimental imperialism, sympathy, punishment, spectacle of cruelty, moral geography, the MaCartney embassy, Sino-British relations, translation of the Qing Code, Ta Tsing Leu Lee, the Great Qing Code, Sir William Jones, Sir Mackintosh, Sir Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lin Zexu, Commissioner Lin, John King Fairbank, the Lady Hughes case of 1784, the Neptune Case of 1807, the Emily Case of 1821, the Canton System, the Opium Debate, British debate on legal codification, the Indian Penal Code, the Indian legal reform, codification, codiphobia, legal modernity, legal reform, colonial archives, primary source and primary discourse, pain of others, injury discourse, discourse of injury, international law, law of nations, Henry Wheaton, Hugo Grotius, Franciscus de Victoria, politics of international law, legal imperialism, Staunton and translation, intercultural encounters, translingual practice, French translation of Chinese law, Punishments of China, visual images of Chinese punishments, “Chinese cruelty,” Orientalism, Edward Said, Qing law, Chinese legal tradition, Chinese legal modernity

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Call for Papers/Participation

Call for Papers/Participation

International Conference on Chinese Law and History

July 10-11, 2015

Fudan University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

The International Society for Chinese Law & History is pleased to announce an international conference on Chinese law and history in Shanghai, China, on July 10-11, 2015. The conference is sponsored and hosted by the School of Law at Fudan University and organized through the International Society for Chinese Law & History. The two organizations are collaborating to bring together a large group of international scholars working on the intersections of Chinese law and Chinese history from multiple disciplines. We now invite proposals for individual papers, panels, and round-table sessions on this area. We especially welcome innovative approaches, interdisciplinary projects, and well-developed papers featuring the most recent developments or new directions of the field.

Proposals should be submitted by April 20, 2015, and will be notified of our decisions on the proposals by April 30, 2015. Paper drafts will be expected for pre-circulation by June 20, 2015. Presentations and papers may be in English or Chinese, but each paper should be accompanied with an English abstract. Please send your proposals, papers, or questions to While only the fifty earliest registrants will be provided with free local accommodation for three nights, all participants must complete registration online by May 10, 2015 at


  1. Proposals can deal with issues related to any of the following topics but are not limited to:

-Law, empire, and ethnicity

-Chinese law in regional and global contexts

-Gender, sexuality, and law

-Law and literature

-Law and environmental history

-Law and food culture

-Law, politics, and governmentality

-Law and religious practice

-New sources or methods in historical research on law in China


  1. A complete proposal will include the following in English:

(1) for individual papers: title, abstract (200 words maximum), presenter’s name, email, affiliation, mailing address;

(2) for panels, besides information for each paper listed in (1), please also include information about a chair and/or discussant, plus a 200-word panel proposal that explains the connections among the individual papers;

(3) for round-table sessions, please choose a topic/theme, a 200-word proposal explaining why this topic/theme deserves group discussion at the conference, and the names, contact, and affiliation of four to six round-table participants who have agreed to take part. Once approved, the organizer(s) are responsible for developing a structured discussion at the conference.

(4) for all applicants, especially those who plan to attend but not to present a paper: please indicate whether you will be willing (also) to serve as a chair or discussant.

We look forward to seeing you in Shanghai soon.

The International Conference on Chinese Law and History Planning Committee

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Upcoming AAS Panels sponsored by ISCLH March 26-27, 2015

ISCLH is proud to announce two wonderful panels it has successfully sponsored at the upcoming annual conference of the Association for Asian Studies in Chicago on March 26 and 27, 2015:

THURSDAY, 26 MARCH 2015 | 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Chicago Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Level 4, Sheraton Ballroom V

Comparative Perspectives on Confucian Justice and Imperial Rule in Chosŏn Korea and Qing ChinaSponsored by International Society for Chinese Law & History

Organizer | Li Chen | University of Toronto

Panel Abstract:

This panel provides a valuable opportunity to compare the legal cultures and judicial practice in Chosŏn Korea and Qing China in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Both societies then were heavily influenced by Confucian ideas of justice, benevolence, imperial legitimacy and social hierarchy. And these ideas in turn informed public expectations of how the authorities should administer law and treated the people. Jisoo Kim’s paper will analyze how victims of abusive judicial torture in Chosŏn Korea and their female relatives strategically invoked some of the Confucian ideals to press charges against the local judicial officers. This presented a thorny issue for the central government trying to support its local agents while claiming compassionate rulership. In comparison, Thomas Buoye explores the tensions between the Qing rulers’ desire for imperial control, which led to a rising number of capital statutes and offenders, and their desire to claim benevolent rule, which contributed to numerous unresolved capital cases awaiting mandatory imperial review in the Autumn Assizes. Although the Qing emperors often blamed local judges for causing such judicial backlog and treating capital offenders too leniently, Li Chen shows that a major cause for such imperial frustration lay in the feared loss of control over interpretation and administration of law as most local judges depended on private legal specialists to handle their judicial matters. These papers will illustrate how different social, cultural and political contexts enabled or limited individual and institutional actors in seeking justice, order, social recognition, or power.

Commentator: Bradly Reed, Univ. of Virginia


Jisoo M. Kim, George Washington Univ., “In Search of Justice: Making Accusations against Unjust Magistrate in Eighteenth-Century Korea”

Thomas Buoye, Univ. of Tulsa, “Imperial Pique and the ‘Benevolence of Women,’: The Politics of Criminal Justice in Eighteenth-Century China”

Li Chen, University of Toronto, “Politics of Justice and Knowledge of Law in Qing China.”



FRIDAY, 27 MARCH 2015 | 3:15 PM – 5:15 PM

Chicago Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Level 4, Sheraton Ballroom III

Legal Politics in the Qing Colonial TerritoriesSponsored by International Society for Chinese Law and History

Organizer | Max Oidtmann | Georgetown University

Organizer | Melissa Macauley | Northwestern University

Panel Abstract:

What was the “law” in the Qing’s outer territories in Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang? Who made it and who used it? Over the last five years, large collections of archival materials from Qing-period agencies and offices in Inner Asia have become available to researchers, allowing for an unprecedented glimpse of grassroots legal politics. These archives reveal that Tibetans, Muslims, Mongols and other non-Han groups made extensive use of Qing institutions to resolve local conflicts. This fact has forced a reconsideration of basic questions about life in Inner Asia in the aftermath of the 18th-century Qing conquests. Was the local legal scene “pluralistic”? Who won in the Qing courtroom: indigenous people or the Qing state? Was there such a thing as “Qing jurisprudence”? The (re)emergence of these legal sources also permits historians of law in China to place the Qing expansion in a comparative framework with the better-studied contemporaneous colonial legal regimes. Was the Qing legal order “colonial”? How can a comparative study of the Qing legal order illuminate changes in legal practices and jurisprudence elsewhere in the 19th century world? This panel brings together four original papers to tackle these questions. Each paper presentation will run for twenty minutes. The final forty minutes will be reserved for a response from our discussant and conversation with the audience.

Area of Study: China and Inner Asia

Discipline(s): History, Law


Max Oidtmann, Georgetown Univ., “The ‘Warring States’ of Amdo: Qing Jurispractice and the Creation of the ‘Tibetan World,’ 1772-1911”

Wesley Chaney, Stanford Univ., “Stolen Land and Broken Families: Law and Disputes in Rebellion’s Wake”

Jianfei Jia, Indiana Univ., “Legal Pluralism in Penal Cases from the Qing’s Muslim Frontier: The Role of Islamic Law”

Eugene John Gregory, “U.S. Military Academy West Point, “Desertion and the Development of the Militarized Criminal Adjudicative Track.”

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Upcoming International Conference in Shanghai, July 10-11, 2015


The International Conference on Chinese Law and History (中國法律與歷史國際研討會) will be held at Fudan University, Shanghai, P.R.China, on July 10-11, 2015. If you plan to attend the conference, please pay your registration fee here before May 10, 2015. Those who have not registered by then may be able to participate in the conference or be accommodated only if our space and budget permit it. Please click here for a copy of the Call for Papers/Participation.

Local accommodation: (1) The first fifty or so ISCLH members who have registered before the deadline will be provided with free hotel accommodation for three nights in Shanghai, and non-members may enjoy the benefit if there is still space. (2) We will make the hotel reservation for all the timely registrants for July 9-11, 2015.  (3) If you plan to stay beyond those three days at the same hotel at your own cost, please contact us at and we can probably help extend the reservation at a conference rate.

Note on the ways of participation:  We will have a variety of panels, sessions, and activities scheduled, including typical conference presentations. We expect that all the registrants, if they are willing to, will be involved in one of the panels one way or another. We will also send a call for paper/proposal out soon. But if your institution will reimburse your travel cost only if you have a formal paper presentation, please email us after your registration. We will try our best to accommodate it, and we should be able to include about three dozen presenters in addition to two dozen or so commentators, chairs, invited speakers, and workshop mentors, etc..

Registration fees for “current members” and “new members”:  If you are not a member of the International Society for Chinese Law and History (ISCLH) yet but would like to participate, please fill out the Membership Application Form (available at Membership) and then click one of the applicable rates for “New Membership + Registration” (depending on your annual income level) to complete your registration for the conference. But if you have already paid membership fee ($30 per year) for the year of 2015, please see information about “current members” below.  //

         For the “current members” (i.e., members who have paid the membership for 2015), please choose the applicable rate of registration fee according to your annual income level. 已經付清了2015年度會費的現有會員,只須支付會議報名費(Registration)一項,請在下面支付欄內根據自己的年收入選擇合適的款項支付報名費。

Please note that the rates are different for new members and current members, and your income level also influences your registration fee. So please click the drop-down menu below to choose the rate applicable to you.

Payment Instructions: To all current members, to pay your registration fee is to follow the same process as you paid your membership fee before: After you have selected your appropriate registration category in the drop-down menu below, please click the “Pay Now” button. You will then see a page with different methods of payment. If do not have a Paypal account, please click “Pay with a debit or credit card, or PayPal Credit” on the right hand side of the page. You can then proceed to fill out the information of your credit card and make the payment. You will receive an automatic receipt of your payment if you have provided an email address when making the payment.

Transaction cost: You will see that we add a 3% (not really “tax” but the system has no other category to label it) to the registration fees as the transaction charges. While this payment system makes things easier for all our members, Paypal charges the equivalent amount for each payment we receive. It is a small amount for each individual member, but the total sum makes a substantial difference for the revenue of ISCLH as a whole. We thank you for your understanding and support.

If you need a more detailed receipt from ISCLH or have difficulty making the payment, please contact Society Secretary at or Society Treasurer at We look forward to seeing you soon in Shanghai!

Registration fee based on income
Thanks for registering!

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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:

Click here for more information from the publisher Brill
Click here for information about the book on Amazon

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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In Memory of Jonathan K. Ocko 追思欧中坦教授 (1946–2015)

The ISCLH has created this page to commemorate the life and professional contributions of Professor Jonathan K. Ocko 欧中坦 (1946–2015), an ISCLH Director and distinguished historian of late imperial and modern Chinese law and society who passed away in January 2015.

We have included links to his former institutions’ obituaries, a list of his scholarly works, and ISCLH members’ fond memories of Professor Ocko as a great friend, valuable mentor, or generous and enthusiastic colleague.

1) Biography 欧中坦教授生平和其校方讣告:

Details about his life and career can be found in the obituaries of his former institutions, North Carolina State University, and the Duke Law School, and two other online tributes.


2) Scholarly Works 欧中坦教授学术著作和活动一览:

Thanks to the meticulous research of one of our members, Mr. Roy L. Sturgeon, Reference Librarian at the Tulane University Law School, we are able to provide probably the most complete list of Professor

Ocko’s scholarly works and contributions:

Unfinished projects: According to NCSU’s website, he was (i) completing a long-term study on concepts of justice in late imperial China and (ii) researching the intersection of economic and legal cultures in late imperial and contemporary China. According to Duke Law School’s website, he was co-teaching “Trust and Honesty in Chinese and Western Legal Cultures: A Comparative Perspective” this semester with Gao Xiqing.

Co-panelist with Donald Clarke, Alex Wang, & Jonathan Wiener, “China Environmental Policy and Climate Change in the 21st Century.” Discussion held at Duke Law School on March 29, 2012. Presented by Program in Public Law. Moderated by Paul Haagen. 69 minutes. See YouTube ( for video of discussion. Ocko’s talk starts at 34-minute mark.

2 book reviews, Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 71, no. 1 (Feb. 2012), pp. 202–04 & 229–31.

Co-authored with David Gilmartin, “State, Sovereignty, and the People: A Comparison of the ‘Rule of Law’ in China and India,” Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 68, no. 1 (Feb. 2009), pp. 55–100. See also their “Response to Comments” in same issue on pages 127–33.

“Foreword,” Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law, vol. 17, no. 2 (Spring 2007), pp. 527-31. Introduction to article based on Duke Law School’s 5th Annual Herbert L. Bernstein Memorial Lecture in International and Comparative Law on November 2, 2006, by Zhu Suli of Peking University Law School. See YouTube ( for video of lecture. 58 minutes. Ocko’s introduction starts at 3-minute mark.

“Interpretative Communities: Legal Meaning in Qing Law,” in Writing and Law in Late Imperial China: Crime, Conflict, and Judgment, Robert E. Hegel & Katherine Carlitz eds. (Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press, 2007), pp. 261–83.

Chinese translation of the above-mentioned article: “‘解釋群體’——清律釋義”),收入《法律史譯評》(Legal History Studies)2013卷,中國政法大學出版社2014年.

“The Missing Metaphor: Applying Western Legal Scholarship to the Study of Contract and Property in Early Modern China,” in Contract and Property in Early Modern China, Madeleine Zelin, Jonathan K. Ocko, & Robert Gardella eds. (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2004), pp. 178–208. Book translated into Chinese and published as Zao qi jin dai Zhongguo de qi yue yu chan quan (Hangzhou, China: Zhejiang University Press, 2011).

“Using the Past to Make a Case for the Rule of Law,” in The Limits of the Rule of Law in China, Karen G. Turner, James V. Feinerman, & R. Kent Guy eds. (Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press, 2000), pp. 65–87.

“Copying, Culture, and Control: Chinese Intellectual Property Law in Historical Perspective,” Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities, vol. 8 (Summer 1996), pp. 559–78.

Co-authored with Laurent Campo, “Foreword,” Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law, vol. 5, no. 2 (Spring 1995), pp. 145–48. Introduction to “Focus on Privatization in China” special article section in this issue.

Book review, Asian Studies Review, vol. 17, no. 1 (July 1993), somewhere between pp. 189–259. I was unable to verify exactly which page or pages.

Book review, American Historical Review, vol. 96, no. 4 (Oct. 1991), p. 1259.

“Women, Property, and Law in the People’s Republic of China,” in Marriage and Inequality in Chinese Society, Rubie S. Watson & Patricia Buckley Ebrey eds. (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1991), pp. 313–46.

“Chinese Justice,” LP recording, side B. Moderated by Wayne Pond (Research Triangle Park, N.C.: National Humanities Center, 1990). See WorldCat record ( for more information.

Co-recorded with Gao Xi-Qing, “Political Reform in the People’s Republic of China,” LP recording, side A. Moderated by Wayne Pond (Research Triangle Park, N.C.: National Humanities Center, 1990). See WorldCat record ( for more information.

“Hierarchy and Harmony: Family Conflicts as Seen in Ch’ing Legal Cases,” in Orthodoxy in Late Imperial China, Liu Kwang-Ching ed. (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 212–30.

Book review, Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 48, no. 4 (Nov. 1989), pp. 845–46.

Co-authored with Tong Rou, “The ‘General Principles of the Civil Law of the PRC’: Its Birth, Characteristics, and Role,” Law & Contemporary Problems, vol. 52, no. 2 (Spring 1989), pp. 151–75. See also Ocko’s “Preface” in same issue on pages 1–26.

Book review, American Historical Review, vol. 93, no. 3 (June 1988), pp. 752–53.

“I’ll Take It All the Way to Beijing: Capital Appeals in the Qing,” Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 47, no. 2 (May 1988), pp. 291–315.

Book review, American Historical Review, vol. 90, no. 5 (Dec. 1985), pp. 1254–55.

Bureaucratic Reform in Provincial China: Ting Jih-ch’ang in Restoration Kiangsu, 1867–1870 (Cambridge, Mass.: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1983).

Family Disharmony as Seen in Ch’ing Legal Cases (1981). 70 pages. Prepared for the ACLS-NEH Sponsored Conference on “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy in Late Imperial China: Cultural Beliefs and Social Divisions” held in Montecito, California, August 20–26, 1981.

Rhetoric and Reality: The T’ung-chih Restoration Reconsidered (North Carolina?: s.n., 198–). See WorldCat record ( for more information.

Book review, Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 38, no. 2 (Feb. 1979), pp. 334–36.

“Gentry-Official Conflict in the Restoration Kiangsu Countryside,” in Reform in Nineteenth Century China, Paul A. Cohen & John E. Schrecker eds. (Cambridge, Mass: East Asian Research Center, Harvard University, 1976), pp. 215–16.

Ting Jih-Ch’ang and Restoration Kiangsu, 1864–1870: Rhetoric and Reality, Ph.D. dissertation (History), Yale University, 1975. 401 pages. Available via ProQuest’s Dissertations & Theses Global subscription database (document ID 288095981)

Book review, Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 34, no. 3 (May 1975), pp. 826–28.

“The British Museum’s Peking Gazette,” Ch’ing shih wen t’i [Studies in Qing History], vol. 2, no. 9 (Jan. 1973), pp. 35–49.

► Bibliography compiled Jan. 23–25, 2015, by Roy L. Sturgeon, FCIL/Reference Librarian, Tulane Law School,


3) Memories 同事友人追忆欧中坦教授故事点滴及悼词:

Many of us have fond memories of Jon as a generous, enthusiastic and knowledgeable friend, mentor, or colleague. We will post these memories from our members below as we receive them.  If you would like to share, please send your stories to ISCLH secretary Weiting Guo ( or President Li Chen ( Thanks.

The entries are listed below in the order of their submissions.





 When I first met Jon he was already well known as Qing historian and had begun his exploration of the relationship between culture, ideology, governance and law in that period. His article on capital appeals remains the basis for our understanding of this uniquely Chinese construction of the relationship between the state and its people. At the same time, his work on family conflict and its expression and resolution within the legal framework of the last dynasty focused our attention on the role of law in the everyday and was an important step in the development of a major thrust of our field today—the exploration of law in practice. Today we cannot imagine Chinese legal history research that bypasses the day to day encounters of common people with the law or the complex interactions that comprised what in other legal traditions would be called private law. Jon was a leader in the project that made such explorations possible.   He brought to that exploration a background in law as taught in US law schools and a long and productive engagement with China’s contemporary legal reform process. He wrote on the analytical frameworks that underpin the legal historians approach to his subject and was a leading figure linking our work to scholars of the world beyond China. At the same time he came to his study of China’s legal history with a broad and deep understanding of Chinese society, economy and politics, historical and present, that saved him time after time from the sins of omission, conflation, and the lures of homogenizing theory. It made him one of the best critics of all of our work.
“Jon was a superb scholar. There are few who knew him who did not benefit from his counsel and his extraordinary knowledge of the documentary and literary corpus. But he was also a one of the most generous of men. Jon was a master of friendship. One of his greatest gifts to me and I suspect to most who knew him, was his concern for your personal as well as your intellectual well-being. And one of the best things about his great joy in other people was the wide range of people that being a friend of Jon’s brought into your life.
“Jon and I spoke often. Not long before he died we were planning for projects together this summer and for others that we hoped would extend far into our retirements. I feel blessed to have had Jon as both a best friend and scholarly collaborator. I cannot bear the thought that he is no longer with us.”
From Madeleine Zelin, Dean Lung Professor of Chinese Studies and Professor of History, Columbia University


“Jon was many things to me during the five years that I knew him: colleague, co-teacher, mentor, and, most often, simply a good-natured friend who would try to one-up my political jokes—usually successfully—and tell long, fascinating stories about his many expeditions in China. He was, of course, a major pioneer in the field of Chinese legal history, and his work on contracts and comparative legal systems directly inspired a good deal of my own research, but it feels inadequate to speak of his impact only in terms of his academic influence, great as it was. Jon was, to quote one of our colleagues at Duke, simply a “life force,” someone who brought a tremendous amount of energy and optimism into anything he was involved with, who pushed the boundaries of conventional thinking, and who inspired his friends and colleagues to do the same. He had truly experienced—not merely studied—China to its fullest, and yet was always eager to seek out new frontiers, often bringing many others, particularly the junior colleagues who had the good fortune to work with him, along for the ride. My last memory of him (which, looking back, is not unlike many other memories I have of him) is a conversation we had, in mid-January, when he was going through a list of archives, institutions, corporations, and people that he planned to visit during an upcoming summer conference in Shanghai. At some point, the list became long enough that I reminded him it was only a 3-day conference, but he cheerfully waved me off. To me, his was a life, and an ongoing adventure, cut short—but what an adventure it was.”

From Taisu Zhang, Associate Professor, Duke University School of Law


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