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16 How a “New Legal History” Might Be Possible: Recent Trends in Chinese Legal History Studies in the United States and Their Implications

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents a review of Western studies of traditional Chinese law. Since the second half of the nineteenth century, and especially during the twentieth century, research on traditional Chinese law benefitted from the development of sinology and the establishment of China studies institutes and centers, but the specter of "Orientalism" still haunted the field. Making use of these archives for research in Chinese law became a new trend in the West, especially in the United States, beginning in the 1990s. For researchers of Chinese legal history, perhaps the most familiar among all the "theories, methodologies, and techniques developed in disciplines other than history" is the academic heritage left by Max Weber. In 1994, Stanford University Press initiated a new series, "Law, Society, and Culture in China", which can be considered an important signal of the rise of "new legal history" in the United States.

Keywords: Chinese legal history; Max Weber; new legal history; Orientalism; sinology; traditional Chinese law; United States



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