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Part II: Local Knowledge, Legal Transplants and the Struggle over Limited Liability

November 18, 2019 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

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University Seminar

Please join for a lecture with:

Madeleine Zelin, Dean Lung Professor of Chinese Studies

History and East Asian Languages and Cultures Departments, Columbia University


This is event is part two of a this year’s Schoff Memorial Lecture Series entitled, “China Semi-Incorporated: The Battle for a Chinese Legal Modernity in the Early Twentieth Century.”

Law was central to China’s early twentieth century transformation from empire to republic. This transformation not only uprooted the foundations of political life. It demanded the fashioning of a new and uniquely Chinese legal modernity in the shadow of Western extrater-ritorial privilege. In order to understand the ways in which law devel-oped on contested ground in places like early twentieth century China, it may be useful to look at seemingly small struggles that reveal the larger processes at work. In these three lectures we will examine just such a struggle. In the first lecture we will see how the idea of the company was naturalized within a Chinese moral universe and came to represent law as the source of western power. In the second, we will trace the resurrection of the customary realm as it challenged the hegemony of law on the books and the notion that before the arrival of Europeans China had no private law. Finally, in the third lecture we will take a position as observers to the struggle between Chinese custom and the arrogance of Western legal universality at extraterritorialy’s premier forum, the Shanghai International Mixed Court.

Madeleine Zelin is Dean Lung Professor of Chinese Stud-ies and Professor of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. Beginning with her first book, The Magistrates Tael, Zelin’s work has focused on the intersection of formal and informal institutions in the economic, political and legal development of Chi-na. The Merchants of Zigong: Industrial Enterprise in Early Modern China was awarded the 2006 Allan Sharlin Memo-rial Prize of the Social Science History Association, the 2006 Fairbank Prize of the Association for Asian Studies and the 2007 Humanities Book Prize of the International Convention on Asian Studies. Zelin served many years as director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and as Director of Columbia University’s East Asian National Re-source Center. Outside the university she has worked to promote understanding of China in the US and as an integral part of teaching and research in the social sciences, in roles including Co-Di-rector of the Luce Foundation-AAS Project on Emerging Fields in Asian Studies-Economic History, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Committee for US China Relations. She is an avid New York amateur flutist.

No registration required.

More details regarding the Schoff Memorial Lecture Series.


November 18, 2019

8:00 PM-10:00 PM



Faculty House, 2nd Floor

64 Morningside Drive


Cosponsored by: Columbia University Press Event


November 18, 2019
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
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