Tag Archives: Publication

New Publication: Ting Zhang, Circulating the Code: Print Media and Legal Knowledge in Qing China

Circulating the Code: Print Media and Legal Knowledge in Qing China

Ting Zhang, University of Maryland

University of Washington Press, 2020

Publisher’s Link:

https://uwapress.uw.edu/book/9780295747156/circulating-the-code/

Publisher’s Description

Contrary to longtime assumptions about the insular nature of imperial China’s legal system, Circulating the Code demonstrates that in the Qing dynasty (1644–1911) most legal books were commercially published and available to anyone who could afford to buy them. Publishers not only extended circulation of the dynastic code and other legal texts but also enhanced the judicial authority of case precedents and unofficial legal commentaries by making them more broadly available in convenient formats. As a result, the laws no longer represented privileged knowledge monopolized by the imperial state and elites. Trade in commercial legal imprints contributed to the formation of a new legal culture that included the free flow of accurate information, the rise of nonofficial legal experts, a large law-savvy population, and a high litigation rate.

Comparing different official and commercial editions of the Qing Code, popular handbooks for amateur legal practitioners, and manuals for community legal lectures, Ting Zhang demonstrates how the dissemination of legal information transformed Chinese law, judicial authority, and popular legal consciousness.

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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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A recent publication: Teemu Ruskola’s Legal Orientalism

Legal Orientalism: China, the United States, and Modern Law

Teemu Ruskola

 Here is the link to its publisher, Harvard Univ. Press

Here is a short video where the author contextualizes the work nicely for a general audience.

Abstract:

Since the Cold War ended, China has become a global symbol of disregard for human rights, while the United States has positioned itself as the world’s chief exporter of the rule of law. How did lawlessness become an axiom about Chineseness rather than a fact needing to be verified empirically, and how did the United States assume the mantle of law’s universal appeal? In a series of wide-ranging inquiries, Teemu Ruskola investigates the history of “legal Orientalism”: a set of globally circulating narratives about what law is and who has it. For example, why is China said not to have a history of corporate law, as a way of explaining its “failure” to develop capitalism on its own? Ruskola shows how a European tradition of philosophical prejudices about Chinese law developed into a distinctively American ideology of empire, influential to this day.

The first Sino–U.S. treaty in 1844 authorized the extraterritorial application of American law in a putatively lawless China. A kind of legal imperialism, this practice long predated U.S. territorial colonialism after the Spanish–American War in 1898, and found its fullest expression in an American district court’s jurisdiction over the “District of China.” With urgent contemporary implications, legal Orientalism lives on in the enduring damage wrought on the U.S. Constitution by late-nineteenth-century anti-Chinese immigration laws, and in the self-Orientalizing reforms of Chinese law today. In the global politics of trade and human rights, legal Orientalism continues to shape modern subjectivities, institutions, and geopolitics in powerful and unacknowledged ways.

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