Law and Society in East Asia



Credits / Language / Semester

2Credits / English / Winter


This seminar aims to provide an introduction to some of the basic problems involving the integration of different legal traditions into a pluralistic yet coherent legal regime, focusing mainly on the experiences concerning the formation of legal institutions in China and Japan. Such basic problems will include: the difficulties regarding what exactly can be identified as the Japanese or Chinese legal tradition; how legal regimes were structured through the actions of actors exploiting the plurality of legal traditions; and how the relationship between legal arrangements and the political power-structure played out. Particular attention will also be paid to the issues of colonialism, and the experiences of Hong Kong, Taiwan and French Indochina will be looked into. The ability to read source materials written in Chinese and/or Japanese would be of much help, but will not be essential.


Legal History, Law and Colonialism, Legal Pluralism, Comparative Law, Anthropological Approaches to Law


Details will be determined at the beginning of term, taking into account the particular interests and linguistic abilities of each participant.

Teaching Methods

Participants will be asked to attend class having completed the weekly reading assignment. Each session will typically begin with a short presentation by one of the participants on a topic related to the reading assignment, and it is hoped that this presentation will set the stage for lively discussion among participants. Non-native speakers of English in particular should also see the seminar as an opportunity to improve their abilities in oral discussion conducted in English.


Class participation (including at least one presentation) and a written report.

Required Text


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