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LAW Law and Society in Late Imperial China

International Law: General

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LAW 773

Law and Society in Late Imperial China

Law School

Recommended for route(s):

[ Academia ] [ Litigation ] [ Regulatory & Policy ] [ Transactional ] International Law: General

Why it is relevant for ...

[ Academia ] [ Litigation ] [ Regulatory & Policy ] [ Transactional ] as a Related Elective for those interested in China : Practitioners have noted that it is important to understand the economic, political and cultural forces in a particular region in order to build relationships in those areas. This course provides historical perspective on China's legal traditions.

General course Description:

Our purpose in this colloquium is to understand how law in the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) functioned as an instrument of autocratic power, a field of interaction between state and society, and a vital feature of social life. To this end, we shall survey Qing law "from the top down" (the perspective of the imperial center, its ideology, and its political imperatives), but also "from the bottom up" (the perspective of quotidian practice at the local level). We shall explore the friction between ideology and practice within the dynasty's formal legal system, but also the field of customary practice that flourished outside the formal system, sometimes in conflict with it. Readings have been selected to introduce the work of major historians (in English) and to cover a range of basic concepts and problems in this field. One important theme is how scholarly interpretation and debate have changed over time, especially as a result of the opening of Qing legal archives for research. Another theme is the question of what concepts and vocabulary are most appropriate for this field of study. What are the advantages and disadvantages of analyzing the Chinese legal tradition in comparison to the West? Is it possible to understand it "on its own terms"? Elements used in grading: Class Participation, Attendance, Written Assignments, Final Paper. Cross-listed with History (HISTORY 392B) & Chinese Literature (CHINLIT 392B).

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