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 Justice for the Empire: Summary Execution and the 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, Justice for the Empire examines how the extensive use of an extraordinary punishment gave rise to the culture of rough justice and significantly transformed the criminal justice system of the vast Qing Empire. 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 the 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 in 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.
I have a project that explores the legendary “female bandit,” Huang Bamei, who had a close association with the Nationalist regimes, the pro-Japanese elements, and the Chinese Communist guerrilla. Using the case of Huang Bamei, as well as the conflicting narratives about her in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and Japan, I explore the survival strategy of a female armed group leader and the complexity of the making of a “heroine” in wartime China and postwar Taiwan. The preliminary outcome of this project has been presented at the annual conference of the Association for Asian Studies.
I am currently on a collaborative analytical project called Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping the Spaces of Modern East Asian History. Coordinated by Dr. Kate McDonald (UC Santa Barbara) and Dr. David Ambaras (North Carolina State University), this project aims to create a digital platform through which scholars can study the spaces of East Asian history as multilayered and embodied historical experiences. As one of the contributors to this project, I am responsible for creating a module that explores the socio-political ecology of a south Chinese village during the twentieth century. The outcome of this project is expected to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association.
In September 2017, I inaugurated the Taiwan Studies Group (TSG) at the Department of History. This group brought together scholars who are interested in studying Taiwan and paved a path for students to better understand the historical and contemporary importance of Taiwan within Asia as well as the world. The TSG is a welcome addition to the Global Asia program that aims to explore the history of Asian countries through comparative-historical perspectives and diverse methodologies. In 2017-18, the TSG hosted eight speakers in Burnaby Campus and the Harbour Centre. The new initiative had garnered the support from the David Lam Centre for International Communication, the Department of History, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
In 2017-18, I created a Work-Study project for students to perform archival research of Taiwanese legal history, accessing a database of the newly-discovered Japanese-rule Taiwan’s Court Archives. Using the court archives in Taipei and various documents left by the government and non-governmental sectors, this project explores how colonial apparatus and local powers negotiated colonial legality during the first fifteen years of the Japanese colonialism in Taiwan. Since Fall 2017, students in this project have collected and re-organized relevant sources from various archives.
I currently serve as the Secretary of the International Society for Chinese Law and History (ISCLH) and the Advisory Committee Member of North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA). I am also the Director of the Taiwan Studies Group at Simon Fraser University. 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.
Social and legal history of China and Taiwan (circa 1800 to the present).
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).
- "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)
- Harvard Yenching Library
- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
- Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation
- Centre for Chinese Studies