Matthew S. Erie


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

Faculty / College Address:

China Centre / St Cross College


Research Interests:

I am a comparativist lawyer (J.D. University of Pennsylvania, LL.M. Tsinghua University) and anthropologist (Ph.D. Cornell University) who studies illiberal law. Specifically, my work examines the growing relevance of Chinese law, (post)socialist law, and Islamic law within and beyond their traditional spheres of influence, and how they inform ideas of development, freedom, and "rule of law." My scholarship is centrally concerned with bringing ethnography and other qualitative methods to bear on problems of law in non-traditional contexts.

My first book China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016) is the first ethnographic study of sharia (Islamic law and ethics) in China. It examines the ways in which Chinese Muslims (Hui) reconcile their obligations under sharia with (post)socialist law across a number of legal domains including family law, property, finance and charity, ritual, and dispute resolution. For a conversation with Tariq Ramadan about the book, please go here. For an interview with Ian Johnson in the New York Times, please click here.

My second book project examines the legal implications of China's investments in developing states. It follows cross-border corporate lawyers, judges, and investors to assess the potential for Chinese approaches to law and development to "travel" beyond China and influence developing economies in South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. I have been awarded research grants from the British Academy and the John Fell Fund (Oxford University Press Research Fund) to start this project. 

For updates on my research, including publications and op-eds, please access my 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. 

Photograph of Matthew Erie
List of site pages