Spring 2018 - HIST 478 D100

STT-History of Law in Taiwan: Competing Regimes, Social Power, and Legal Culture (4)

Class Number: 3321

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 1:20 PM
    AQ 2122, Burnaby



An examination of Taiwanese customs and social practices, moral philosophy, religious traditions, political institutions, and popular culture in pre-modern and modern Taiwan through the lenses of law and judicial practices.


This seminar course explores the history of law and its correlation with social life in Taiwan. The course focuses on how legal culture was established and how successive regimes—both European and Asian—negotiated legal order with social powers and dynamically demarcated the boundaries between lawfulness and illegality. Using the case of Taiwan, which after the seventeenth century became an important hub between competing forces, this course discusses several important issues. How did political regimes approach native legal customs and encounter pressures of centralization and legal pluralism while introducing new legal systems to a colony (or “borderland”) with various (sub-)ethnic groups? How did Taiwan’s aboriginals and new waves of immigrants interact strategically with regimes and colonizers while also developing ways of dispute resolution? Taiwan’s experience offers a unique window into the complex dynamics and tensions between imperial governance, settler demand, and the growth of legal culture. Students will read selected judicial cases from the Dutch, Japanese, and Qing eras and discuss the evolution of legal culture on a maritime borderland.


  • Attendance 10%
  • Class participation 10%
  • Critical reflection essay 15%
  • Presentation 15%
  • Mid-term examination 30%
  • Quiz 20%



Tay-sheng Wang, Legal Reform in Taiwan under Japanese Colonial Rule, 1895-1945: The Reception of Western Law, reprint (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015).


Mark Allee, Law and Local Society in Late Imperial China: Northern Taiwan in the Nineteenth Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994).

Chih-ming Ka, Japanese Colonialism in Taiwan: Land Tenure, Development, and Dependency, 1895–1945 (Boulder: Westview, 1998).

Paul Katz, Divine Justice: Religion and the Development of Chinese Legal Culture (London: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Registrar Notes:

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