Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Studies; Fellow at St. Cross College
Faculty / College Address:
My research and publications focus on the role of law in contemporary Chinese society and, more broadly, re-examine assumptions about modern law through the China experience. I use anthropological methods and theories to understand how Chinese perceive, and use (or chose not to use) state and non-state laws in a cultural and political context that differs from Anglo-American precedents. I am currently working on two related books that examine religious rules among China’s ethnic minorities, specifically, Chinese Muslims (Hui). China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016), based on twenty months of fieldwork, is the first ethnographic study of the contemporary practice of Islamic law among Hui. This book finds that because Islamic law is an “unofficial law” in China, it has formed a middle-ground through which Hui leaders and the socialist state access each other, continually managing their relationships. The second book shifts the focus from shariʿa to tariqa (the mystical path) to explain how transnational networks, spiritual genealogies, and esoteric practices are formed by everyday life and vice versa. Whereas the state selectively closes Chinese Muslim society in terms of pilgrimage, inter-regional migration, and cross-border mobility, Muslim mystics create links with centers in India and Central Asia, and thus reconfigure China’s place in the increasingly intertwined spiritual/secular map of Asia. In addition to transnational religious law, my research interests include the role of property rights in China’s urban transformation and the impact of foreign anti-corruption laws on China’s legal development.
Chinese Law and Society
Modern China and the World
Ethnographic Theory and Methods
China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).
“Muslim Mandarins in Chinese Courts: Dispute Resolution, Islam, and the Secular State in Northwest China.” Law and Social Inquiry (2016).
“Zhongguo falü jiaoyu gaige: shou Meiguo jiaoyu qifa hou de yizhi.” Chinese translation of “Legal Education Reform in China Through U.S.-Inspired Transplants.” Reprinted in Faxue jiaoyu yanjiu (Research on Legal Studies Education), 8: 363-400 (2013).
“Property Rights, Legal Consciousness, and New Media in China: The Hard Case of the ‘Toughest Nail-House in History’.” China Information, 26 (1): 34-58 (2012).
“Legal Education Reform in China Through U.S.-Inspired Transplants.” Journal of Legal Education, 59 (1): 60-96 (2009)
“China’s (Post)Socialist Property Rights Regime: Assessing the Impact of the Property Law on Illegal Land Takings,” Hong Kong Law Journal, 37 (3): 919-949 (2007).
Edited journal special issues:
“Defining Shariʿa in China: State, Ahong, and the Post-Secular Turn.” Special Issue of Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review “Islam in China/China in Islam.” 12:88-117 (2014).
Introduction to “Islam in China/China in Islam” Special Issue of Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review “Islam in China/China in Islam,” Primary author. Co-editor with Allen Carlson. 12:1-12 (2014).
“Reimagining the Silk Road.” Photo Essay. Special Issue of Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review “Islam in China/China in Islam.” 12 (2014).
“Custom in the Archive: The Birth of Modern Chinese Law at the End of Empire,” Empire and the Social Sciences: An Anthology, Jeremy Adelman, ed. (in progress).
“China.” Oxford Encyclopedia of Islamic Law, Editor, Jonathan Brown (2014).