Information and Power: Printing, Law, and the Making of Early Modern Chinese Legal Culture, 1644 to 1911


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships




This research focuses on the production and reception of legal knowledge, and the role of legal information in the formation of early modern Chinese legal culture. Combined the methodologies used in the fields of print culture and legal history, I argue that commercial publishers had greater power and influence in producing authoritative legal texts than official publishers. Commercial publishers and the book market, rather than the Qing state, played the leading role in the dissemination of accurate legal information. Qing people had access to accurate legal information through commercial legal imprints and community legal lectures, and many of them were quite familiar with the laws. The commercial printing revolution fundamentally transformed China’s judicial system and legal culture.