Limited Term Assistant Professor
Office: AQ 6232
Areas of Study: ASIA
I was born and raised in Taipei, where I did my law degrees at National Taiwan University (NTU). I became interested in East Asian history when I studied law and society at NTU’s Fundamental Legal Studies Program. 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 a social and legal historian of China, Taiwan, and East Asia, with a focus on law, empire, violence, and local society.
As a historian of law, empire, and violence committed to cross-cultural and comparative approaches, I ask in my research how political regimes, together with actors at the center and the margins, managed the friction between lawfulness and illegality.
I am currently working on three book projects:
(1) Justice for the Empire: Summary Execution and the Legal Culture in Qing China, 1644-1912: 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. Focusing on how summary execution was enforced, challenged and manipulated, this book analyzes the dialectical process of legal formation of empire and the symbiotic relationship between empire building and judicial expediency. 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.
(2) The Precarious Harmony: Law and Disorder in A Chinese Village, 1888-1942: This book explores law and everyday life in a southeast Chinese village. Using the precious records of a village man’s diary—which covers over 50 years of local history—and abundant sources from local archives, this book challenges the existing approach that focuses on the grand narratives about the modernization of law and socio-political transformations. Focusing on the complex interactions between local actors and the dynamic process of legitimation, this book demonstrates the experiences and survival strategies of local elites and ordinary people who had constantly been involved in social conflicts and local politics. The initial finding of this project has been published as an article in the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association. I am now revising an article on the persecution of gamblers and “crooks” in this village during the early 20th century.
** Using the sources collected for this project, I also participate in a digital humanities project, “Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping the Spaces of Modern East Asian History 2.0”—coordinated by Dr. Kate McDonald (UC Santa Barbara) and Dr. David Ambaras (North Carolina State University), in which I explore the history of water and the practice of local communities involved in water-related projects in a southeast Chinese city, Wenzhou, during the twentieth century.
(3) The Portraits of a Heroine: Huang Bamei and the Politics of Wartime History in East Asia, 1930–1960: This book explores the life and images of Huang Bamei (1906–82)—a female bandit, guerrilla leader, and women’s organization coordinator who had a close association with mainland China, Taiwan, Japan and the US during the mid-twentieth century. Drawing on abundant sources from government archives, newspapers, memoires, films and interviews, my research examines how the images of a female outlaw were manipulated by competing regimes during the wartime, while political leaders and media consistently utilized the tales of a “heroine” to mobilize the masses and reconstruct the roles of women in the war. The preliminary outcome of this project will be published as a journal article in Cross-Currents (UC Berkeley).
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).
- “The Portraits of a Heroine: Huang Bamei and the Politics of Wartime History in China and Taiwan, 1930–1960,” Cross-Currents (UC Berkeley) (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