East Asian Languages and Cultures | Studies in East Asian Society: Law & Society in Comtemporary China
E350 | 13902 | Michelson, E.


This section undergraduate students only
This class meets with EALC-E505 and LAW-L724
3 credits

Despite a burgeoning scholarly literature chronicling the
reconstruction, expansion, and proliferation of laws, courts, and
lawyers in China since 1979, scholars disagree about the
significance and implications of these developments. Does the
Chinese legal system offer meaningful redress to people with
grievances, or should it be understood as ornamental "window
dressing"? Does it do more to limit or to strengthen the power of
the government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? Does it do
more to help people challenge or to prevent people from challenging
the government and the CCP? In this interdisciplinary seminar we
will explore and debate these questions through a deep exploration
of the character, causes, and consequences of conflict in post-Mao
China (1949-present), with particular attention to the post-Mao era
(1976-present). Urban conflict has surrounded layoffs, unpaid wages,
unpaid pensions, and housing demolition. Rural conflict has
surrounded "land grabs," excessive taxation, family planning, and
pollution. We will consider how often, under what circumstances, and
to what effect aggrieved citizens mobilize sources of help inside
and outside the legal system in pursuit of justice. Our task of
assessing the degree of change from--and the degree of continuity
with--past patterns and practices of the Mao era (1949-1976) will
require us to consider the complex relations between the legal
system (including lawyers) and the state, to examine the enduring
significance of mass mobilization campaigns, and to situate the
formal legal system in the larger justice system containing multiple
and overlapping means of civil and criminal "justice" (e.g.,
administrative litigation vs. petitioning the bureaucracy; criminal
prosecution vs. CCP "discipline and inspection"; and criminal
punishment vs. police "administrative punishment").