Legal history studies have often focused mainly on codified law, without attention to actual practice, and on the past, without relating it to the present. As the title—
Research from Archival Case Records: Law, Society, and Culture in China—of this book suggests, the authors deliberately follow the research method of starting from court actions and only on that basis engage in discussions of laws and legal concepts and theory. The articles cover a range of topics and source materials, both past and present. They provide some surprising findings—about disjunctures between code and practice, adjustments between them, and how those reveal operative principles and logics different from what the legal texts alone might suggest.
Contributors are: Kathryn Bernhardt, Danny Hsu, Philip C. C. Huang, Christopher Isett, Yasuhiko Karasawa, Margaret Kuo, Huaiyin Li, Jennifer M. Neighbors, Bradly W. Reed, Matthew H. Sommer, Huey Bin Teng, Lisa Tran, Elizabeth VanderVen, and Chenjun You.
The History and Theory of Legal Practice in China: Toward a Historical-Social Jurisprudence goes beyond the either/or dichotomy of Chinese vs. Western law, tradition vs. modernity, and the substantive-practical vs. the formal. It does so by proceeding not from abstract legal texts but from the realities of legal practice. Whatever the declared intent of a law, it must in actual application adapt to social realities. It is the two dimensions of representation and practice, and law and society, that together make up the entirety of a legal system. The assembled articles by the editors and a new generation of Chinese scholars illustrate a new “historical-social jurisprudence,” and explore the possible conceptual underpinnings of a modern Chinese legal system that would both accommodate and integrate the unavoidable paradoxes of contemporary China.