Biography

I was born and raised in Taipei, a city known for its pop culture and night markets. I became interested in Chinese history when I studied law at the National Taiwan University (NTU). After my master programs at the law schools of NTU and the University of Southern California (USC), I entered the University of British Columbia and received my Ph.D. in Asian Studies.

I am currently working on a book manuscript entitled Rough Justice: Summary Execution and Legal Culture in Qing China. This book explores the rise of summary execution from the eighteenth-century “prosperous era” to the twentieth-century turbulent period. Drawing on abundant sources from central and local archives, Rough Justice examines how the extensive use of an extraordinary punishment gave rise to the culture of rough justice and significantly transformed the criminal justice system before the advent of Westernization. I have published a chapter of this monograph that explores the politics of exclusion and the making of a criminal class, the “roaming braves,” during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I am currently revising another chapter on the fabrication of “wicked people” and the politics of judicial expediency in eighteenth-century China.

I am also working on a book-length project that explores the practice of community mediation and local socio-political ecology in a Zhejiang village during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Using the precious records of a village man’s diary and the local sources of Wenzhou and Rui’an, I challenge the existing approach that focuses on the grand narratives about modernization of law and socio-political transformations. I also explore the complex interactions between local actors and the dynamic process of legitimation in a South China village. The preliminary outcome of this project has been published on the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association. Based on the sources found in this project, I am now revising an article on the persecution of gamblers and “crooks” in early-twentieth century Wenzhou.

In Fall 2017, I initiated a project on the suppression of banditry and the negotiation of colonial legality during the first fifteen years of the Japanese colonialism in Taiwan. Using the court archives in Taipei and various documents left by the government and non-governmental sectors, I explore how colonial apparatus and local powers negotiated the punishment of bandits during an era of constructing colonial order.

I currently serve as the Secretary of the International Society for Chinese Law and History (ISCLH) and the External Advisory Committee Member of North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA). My research has been supported by the Harvard Yenching Library, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation.

Research Interests

Social and legal history of China and Taiwan (circa 1800 to the present).

Books

Routledge Companion to Chinese Legal History, co-edited with Thomas Buoye (Routledge, forthcoming)

Trans-Pacific Fermentations: Taiwan and the Making of America’s Cold War Sinology, co-edited with Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang, Derek Sheridan, Laura Wen, Chiting Peng, Eric Siu-Kei Cheng, and Justina Hwang (Academia Sinica, forthcoming December 2018).

Articles

  • "Zhang Gang’s Diary: Life and Politics in Japanese-occupied Wenzhou," in Japanese Occupation of China: New Inquiries and Texts, edited by Norman Smith, Craig Smith, and Jonathan Henshaw (Vancouver: UBC Press, forthcoming)
  • “A Different Kind of War: Summary Execution and the Politics of Men of Force in Late-Qing China, 1864–1911,” in Global Lynching and Collective Violence: Vol. 1: Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, edited by Michael J. Pfeifer (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2017), 34–77.
  • “Social Practice and Judicial Politics in ‘Grave Destruction’ Cases in Qing Taiwan, 1683–1895,” in Chinese Law: Knowledge, Practice, and Transformation, 1530s to 1950s, eds. Li Chen and Madeleine Zelin (Leiden: Brill, February 2015).
  • “Living with Disputes: Zhang Gang Diary (1888–1942) and the Life of a Community Mediator in Late Qing and Republican China,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 24.2 (2013)

Awards

  • Harvard Yenching Library
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
  • Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation
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