Category Archives: Blogs

New Publication: Maria Adele Carrai, “Sovereignty in China: A Genealogy of a Concept since 1840”

Sovereignty in China: A Genealogy of a Concept since 1840

Maria Adele Carrai, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

Cambridge University Press, 2019

Publisher’s Link

https://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/law/public-international-law/sovereignty-china-genealogy-concept-1840

Publisher’s Description

This book provides a comprehensive history of the emergence and the formation of the concept of sovereignty in China from the year 1840 to the present. It contributes to broadening the history of modern China by looking at the way the notion of sovereignty was gradually articulated by key Chinese intellectuals, diplomats and political figures in the unfolding of the history of international law in China, rehabilitates Chinese agency, and shows how China challenged Western Eurocentric assumptions about the progress of international law. It puts the history of international law in a global perspective, interrogating the widely-held belief of international law as universal order and exploring the ways in which its history is closely anchored to a European experience that fails to take into account how the encounter with other non-European realities has influenced its formation.

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. International law and the sinocentric ritual system: a nineteenth-century clash of normative orders
2. Secularizing a sacred empire: early translations and uses of international law
3. China’s struggle for survival and the new Darwinist conception of international society (1895–1911)
4. China rejoining the world and its fictional sovereignty, 1912–1949
5. From Proletarian revolution to peaceful coexistence: sovereignty in the PRC, 1949–1989
Conclusion

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New Publication: Madeleine Zelin, “A Deep History of Chinese Shareholding”

ISCLH is pleased to share member and board director Madeleine Zelin‘s new publication from Law and History Review. “A Deep History of Chinese Shareholding” explores the cultural and political context that gave rise to the Chinese shareholding tradition in late imperial China. Shifting away from the traditional focus on legal transplantation, this article instead examines indigenous Chinese traditions offering businesspeople “a rich menu of options that could effectively substitute for many of the critical functions of the corporation.” This history of shareholding in late imperial China contributes to the growing research on impersonal investments and transactions in pre-industrial societies and expands scholarly understandings of diverse legal and economic institutions in the era of early capitalism.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1017/S073824801800038X

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CFP: ASLH Pre-Conference Workshop on Law and Empire in Sino-Asian History

The American Society for Legal History (ASLH), the International Society for Chinese Law and History (ISCLH), and the Harvard Law School East Asian Legal Studies Program (EALS) jointly invite submissions for a pre-conference workshop in Cambridge, MA on November 21, 2019, directly preceding ASLH’s 2019 annual meeting in Boston. The theme of the workshop is “Law and Empire in Sino-Asian History”: it aims to explore the legal and institutional dimensions of empire in early modern and modern Asia, insofar as they are substantially related to China. Proposals should therefore seriously engage with some aspect of Chinese history, but need not so do exclusively—comparative or transnational papers are most welcome.

We hope, in particular, to present the work of a number of scholars who are new to the ASLH annual meeting–early career scholars and graduate students are therefore especially encouraged to apply. In this way, we hope to promote scholarship in this area of legal history and to encourage more Asianists and Sinologists to attend the ASLH meeting.

The event will be composed of three panels of three to four papers each. One panel, keeping with the traditions of ASLH pre-conference workshops, will exclusively feature early career scholars and graduate students, and we will match each paper on this panel with its own commentator. The other two panels are open to scholars of all ranks and seniority, and follow the usual ASLH panel format: three to four presenters, followed by one commentator, and then by open discussion with the audience.

Applications to the workshop should include a current curriculum vitae, a title, and a paper abstract of no more than 400 words. Applicants whose proposals are accepted will receive some support towards conference hotel and travel costs. Please note that submission to the workshop does NOT preclude a separate submission to the main ASLH meeting (see https://aslh.net/conference/2019-annual-meeting/).

Applications close on April 5, 2019, at 5 pm EST. Please send queries and applications to Michael Ng (ngmichaelhk@gmail.com) and Shuang Chen (shuang-chen@uiowa.edu), with the subject line “ASLH 2019 Pre-Conference Workshop.” Decisions will be sent out by mid-June.

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New Publication: Max Oidtmann, Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet

Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet

Max Oidtmann, Georgetown University Qatar

Columbia University Press, 2018

Orders through Columbia’s website are eligible for 30% discount using coupon code CUP30 at checkout.

Publisher’s Description

In 1995, the People’s Republic of China resurrected a Qing-era law mandating that the reincarnations of prominent Tibetan Buddhist monks be identified by drawing lots from a golden urn. The Chinese Communist Party hoped to limit the ability of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile to independently identify reincarnations. In so doing, they elevated a long-forgotten ceremony into a controversial symbol of Chinese sovereignty in Tibet.

In Forging the Golden Urn, Max Oidtmann ventures into the polyglot world of the Qing empire in search of the origins of the golden urn tradition. He seeks to understand the relationship between the Qing state and its most powerful partner in Inner Asia—the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. Why did the Qianlong emperor invent the golden urn lottery in 1792? What ability did the Qing state have to alter Tibetan religious and political traditions? What did this law mean to Qing rulers, their advisors, and Tibetan Buddhists? Working with both the Manchu-language archives of the empire’s colonial bureaucracy and the chronicles of Tibetan elites, Oidtmann traces how a Chinese bureaucratic technology—a lottery for assigning administrative posts—was exported to the Tibetan and Mongolian regions of the Qing empire and transformed into a ritual for identifying and authenticating reincarnations. Forging the Golden Urn sheds new light on how the empire’s frontier officers grappled with matters of sovereignty, faith, and law and reveals the role that Tibetan elites played in the production of new religious traditions in the context of Qing rule.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction
Act I: The Royal Regulations
Act II: Shamanic Colonialism
Act III: Amdowas Speaking in Code
Conclusion: Paradoxes of the Urn and the Limits of Empire
Chronology of Key Events
List of Usages of the Golden Urn Ritual
Tibetan Orthographic Equivalents
Translation of the Qianlong Emperor’s Discourse on Lamas
Notes
Bibliography
Index

For more information:
https://cup.columbia.edu/book/forging-the-golden-urn/9780231545303

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New Publication: Bettine Birge, Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: Cases from the Yuan dianzhang

Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: Cases from the Yuan dianzhang

Bettine Birge, University of Southern California

Harvard University Press, 2017

Publisher’s Description

The Mongol conquest of China in the thirteenth century and Khubilai Khan’s founding of the Yuan dynasty brought together under one government people of different languages, religions, and social customs. Chinese law evolved rapidly to accommodate these changes, as reflected in the great compendium Yuan dianzhang (Statutes and Precedents of the Yuan Dynasty). The records of legal cases contained in this seminal text, Bettine Birge shows, paint a portrait of medieval Chinese family life—and the conflicts that arose from it—that is unmatched by any other historical source.

Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan reveals the complex, sometimes contradictory inner workings of the Mongol-Yuan legal system, seen through the prism of marriage disputes in chapter eighteen of the Yuan dianzhang, which has never before been translated into another language. Birge’s meticulously annotated translation clarifies the meaning of terms and passages, some in a hybrid Sino-Mongolian language, for specialists and general readers alike. The text includes court testimony—recorded in the vivid vernacular of people from all social classes—in lawsuits over adultery, divorce, rape, wife-selling, marriages of runaway slaves, and other conflicts. It brings us closer than any other source to the actual Mongolian speech of Khubilai and the great khans who succeeded him as they struggled to reconcile very different Mongol, Muslim, and Chinese legal traditions and confront the challenges of ruling a diverse polyethnic empire.

Table of Contents

  • Maps, Figures, and Charts*
  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • I. The Age of Khubilai Khan and the Yuan dianzhang
    • 1. The Historical and Social Context of the Yuan dianzhang
    • 2. Yuan Administration and the Legal System
    • 3. Origins, Contents, and Transmission of the Yuan dianzhang
    • 4. Notes on the Translation
  • II. Chapter 18, “Marriage,” from the Yuan dianzhang: An Annotated Translation
    • 5. Sections 1–2: Marriage Rites and Exchanges; Getting Married
    • 6. Sections 3–5: Marriage between Officials and Commoners; Marriages of Military Personnel; Divorce
    • 7. Sections 6–8: When the Husband Dies; Levirate Marriage Approved; Levirate Marriage Rejected
    • 8. Sections 9–12: Secondary Wives; Marriage between Slaves and Commoners; Marriage of Entertainers; Marriage during the Mourning Period
  • Appendix A: Translation of Title Page of the Yuan dianzhang
  • Appendix B: Marriage Cases from Chapter 18 of the Yuan dianzhang in Chronological Order
  • Appendix C: Marriage Cases from Chapter 18 of the Yuan dianzhang with Dates
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
  • * Maps, Figures, and Charts
    • Maps
      • 0.1 The eastern portion of the Mongol-Yuan empire superimposed on the provinces and major cities of modern China
      • 0.2 Location of marriage cases in the Yuan dianzhang
      • 1.1 Khitan Liao empire around the year 1100
      • 1.2 Jurchen Jin empire around the year 1170
    • Figures
      • I.1 First page of chapter 18, “Marriage” (Hunyin), of the Yuan dianzhang
      • 1.1 Multilingual arch at Juyong Pass
      • 2.1 Courtroom scene
      • 3.1 Sample pages from the Yuan dianzhang
      • 3.2 Title page of the Yuan dianzhang
    • Charts
      • 1. Administrative units during the Yuan dynasty
      • 2. Case 18.11, document flow
      • 3. Case 18.19, document flow
      • 4. Case 18.37, unusual document flow
      • 5. Case 18.42, outline of verdicts and events
      • 6. Case 18.64, document flow demonstrating Censorate’s appeal to the executive administration for a ruling

For more information:
https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674975514

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New Publication: Philip Thai, China’s War on Smuggling: Law, Economic Life, and the Making of the Modern State, 1842–1965

China’s War on Smuggling: Law, Economic Life, and the Making of the Modern State, 1842–1965

Philip Thai, Northeastern University

Columbia University Press, 2018

Available at Columbia University Press, Amazon, and independent bookstores. Orders through Columbia’s website are eligible for 30% discount using coupon code THAI or CUP30 at checkout.

Publisher’s Description

Smuggling along the Chinese coast has been a thorn in the side of many regimes. From opium and weapons concealed aboard foreign steamships in the Qing dynasty to nylon stockings and wristwatches trafficked in the People’s Republic, contests between state and smuggler have exerted a surprising but crucial influence on the political economy of modern China. Seeking to consolidate domestic authority and confront foreign challenges, states introduced tighter regulations, higher taxes, and harsher enforcement. These interventions sparked widespread defiance, triggering further coercive measures. Smuggling simultaneously threatened the state’s power while inviting repression that strengthened its authority.

Philip Thai chronicles the vicissitudes of smuggling in modern China—its practice, suppression, and significance—to demonstrate the intimate link between illicit coastal trade and the amplification of state power. China’s War on Smuggling shows that the fight against smuggling was not a simple law enforcement problem but rather an impetus to centralize authority and expand economic controls. The smuggling epidemic gave Chinese states pretext to define legal and illegal behavior, and the resulting constraints on consumption and movement remade everyday life for individuals, merchants, and communities. Drawing from varied sources such as legal cases, customs records, and popular press reports and including diverse perspectives from political leaders, frontline enforcers, organized traffickers, and petty runners, Thai uncovers how different regimes policed maritime trade and the unintended consequences their campaigns unleashed. China’s War on Smuggling traces how defiance and repression redefined state power, offering new insights into modern Chinese social, legal, and economic history.

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Coastal Commerce and Imperial Legacies: Smuggling and Interdiction in the Treaty Port Legal Order
2. Tariff Autonomy and Economic Control: The Intellectual Lineage of the Smuggling Epidemic
3. State Interventions and Legal Transformations: Asserting Sovereignty in the War on Smuggling
4. Shadow Economies and Popular Anxieties: The Business of Smuggling in Operation and Imagination
5. Economic Blockades and Wartime Trafficking: Clandestine Political Economies Under Competing Sovereignties
6. State Rebuilding and New Smuggling Geographies: Restoring and Evading Economic Controls in Civil War China
7. Old Menace in New China: Symbiotic Economies in the Early People’s Republic
Conclusion
Character List
Notes
Bibliography

For more information:
https://cup.columbia.edu/book/a/9780231185844

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New in Paperback: Li Chen, Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes: Sovereignty, Justice, and Transcultural Politics

Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes: Sovereignty, Justice, and Transcultural Politics

Li Chen, University of Toronto

Columbia University Press, 2016

Publisher’s Description:
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:
Acknowledgments
Introduction
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
Conclusion
List of Abbreviations
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

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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New Publication: “Law, Custom, and Social Norms: Civil Adjudications in Qing and Republican China”

Please see below for information on a new article from member Xiaoqun Xu.

“Law, Custom, and Social Norms: Civil Adjudications in Qing and Republican China,” Law and History Review, volume 36, issue 1, February 2018, pp. 77-104

Abstract: This study examines how law, custom, and social norms interacted in civil justice in Qing and Republican China by looking into 152 civil cases tried in 1912, right after the founding of the Republic of China, and a body of legal interpretations from the Supreme Court during 1912-1929, and certain provisions in the Civil Code of 1929-30–the very first one in Chinese history. It shows that both law and custom were invoked by judges within their moral universe or social norms. It traces how the Supreme Court allowed local customs to be a legal ground for rulings in certain civil disputes, and which customs in civil matters in the Qing and the early Republic were, and which were not, “hardened” into the Civil Code. The interplay between law and custom, mediated by judges with their normative sense of right and wrong, constituted both continuity and change in civil justice between the Qing era and the Republican period. Ultimately, the issues addressed here speak to a larger question of how Chinese jurists, within their judicial discretions, tried to strike a difficult but necessary balance between “law-on-books” and “law-in-action,” while law on the books was undergoing important revisions.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0738248017000554

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Message from Taisu Zhang, President of ISCLH

Dear members of ISCLH,

On behalf of the new officers and directors, please allow me to thank you for your ongoing support of the society. As the new board, which was announced to you last week, begins to operate, I would like to bring three things to your attention:

  1. For those of you who are planning to attend the AAS annual conference in Washington, DC, we would like to invite you to a society-wide gathering at 8:30 pm on Friday, March 23, in Washington Room 3 at the Marriott Wardman. Board of Director members, executive officers, and committee members: please consider arriving at 7:30 pm for a business meeting, where we can discuss the planning of our upcoming workshops/conferences and other items on the Society’s agenda.
  2. The American Society for Legal History (ASLH) will have its annual meeting this year in Houston, in early November. They have invited ISCLH members to submit panel proposals. If you are interested but need help assembling a panel, please let us know.
  3. The Society is currently in the process of organizing two workshops/conferences: one at Yale in December 2018 or January 2019, and one in Taipei in the summer of 2019. Should you have suggestions or thoughts, we would welcome your input.

Thank you again, and best wishes for a prosperous Year of the Dog!

Yours,

Taisu Zhang
President

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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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