Matthew S. Erie


Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Studies; Fellow at St. Cross College 

Faculty / College Address:

China Centre / St Cross College


Research Interests:

Professor Erie’s interdisciplinary work stimulates conversations between law and anthropology to study the procedural aspects of domestic and cross-border commercial dispute resolution. In particular, he investigates the emergence and reconciliation of conflicts of law and normative pluralism in the course of increasing intersections of non-liberal values and Anglo-American common law.

His current research project examines “legal hubs,” sub-national jurisdictions that develop and implement their own procedural law for cross-border commercial dispute resolution. Against the backdrop of protectionist movements in the UK, Europe and the U.S. and increasing Chinese outbound investment, legal hubs, including those in London, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, invite re-evaluation and sharpening of the orthodox understanding of international private law, including, in particular, concepts such as governing law, jurisdiction and enforcement. He has been awarded research grants from the British Academy, the John Fell Fund (Oxford University Press Research Fund), and the Social Science Research Council to start this project. His article “Anticorruption as Transnational Law: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, PRC Law, and Party Rules,” forthcoming in the American Journal of Comparative Law (here), marks an initial foray into this project.

His current project builds on his previous work on disputing and plural normative systems in China. His book China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016), based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in northwest China, is the first ethnography of Islamic law in China with a focus on the substantive and procedural conflicts between shari’a and Chinese state law. China and Islam earned a 2017 Asian Law and Society Association Distinguished Book Award Honorable Mention and was listed as one of the “Books of the Year 2017” by both the Times Literary Supplement (here) and Times Higher Education (here). For an interview with Ian Johnson in the New York Times, please click here. His articles on dispute resolution, property rights, and the legal profession have appeared in law reviews and peer-review journals including the Hong Kong Law Journal, Journal of Legal Education, Law and Social Inquiry, Islamic Law and Society, Journal of Law and Religion, and American Ethnologist.

For updates on research and publications, please visit his personal website here.

Courses Taught:

Chinese Law and Society

China Anthropology

Modern China and the World

Ethnographic Theory and Methods

Selected Publications:


China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016). 


In progress    “Chinese Enterprises’ Overseas Investments and Investment Protections,” co-written with Jun Zhao.

Forthcoming   “Anticorruption as Transnational Law: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, PRC Law, and Party Rules, American Journal of Comparative Law.

2018   “The Traveling Waqf: Property, Religion, and Mobility Beyond China” Islamic Law and Society. Special Issue on Waqfs. 25 (1-2).

2016   “Shariʿa, Charity, and Minjian Autonomy in Muslim China: Gift-Giving in a Plural World.” American Ethnologist. 43(2): 311-324.

2015   “Muslim Mandarins in Chinese Courts: Dispute Resolution, Islam, and the Secular State in Northwest China.” Law and Social Inquiry. 40(4): 1001-1030.

2013   “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.

2012   “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.

2009  “Legal Education Reform in China Through U.S.-Inspired Transplants.” Journal of Legal Education 59 (1): 60-96.

2007   “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.

Edited journal special issues:

2014   “Defining Shariʿa in China: State, Ahong, and the Post-Secular Turn.” Special Issue of Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review called “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 called “Islam in China/China in Islam,” Primary author. Co-editor with Allen Carlson. 12:1-12.

Book contributions:

In progress    “The Role of Islam in the ‘One Belt, One Road’.” China Pivots West: Ethnic Tensions and Human Security along the “New Silk Road,” eds. James Leibold and Chen Yangbin. Publisher TBA.

In progress    “Custom in the Archive: The Birth of Modern Chinese Law at the End of Empire.” Empire and the Social Sciences: An Anthology, ed. Jeremy Adelman. Publisher TBA.

2017   “The Afterlife of Property: Affect, Time, Value.” In Legalism: Property and Ownership, ed. Hannah Skoda. Oxford University Press.

2012   Reprinting of “China’s (Post)Socialist Property Rights Regime: Assessing the Impact of the Property Law on Illegal Land Takings.” The Library on Essays on Chinese Law, vol II, Obligations and Property Rights in China, ed. Perry Keller. Ashgate: London.

Encyclopedia entry: 

“China.” Oxford Encyclopedia of Islamic Law, Editor, Jonathan Brown (2014).

Book Reviews:

2015   Book review of Resolving Land Disputes in East Asia: Exploring the Limits of the Law, eds. Hualing Fu and John Gillespie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). The China Quarterly. 224: 1102-1102.

2014   Book review of Shanghai Gone: Domicide and Defiance in a Chinese Megacity, Qin Shao (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). China Information 28(1): 111-112.

2012   Book Review of Rectifying God’s Name Liu Zhi’s Confucian Translation of Monotheism and Islamic Law, James D. Frankel (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2011). Journal of Islamic Law and Society 19(3): 316-319. 

Matthew Erie