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date: 18 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins with a brief overview of the foundations of the field of Chinese legal history. It then delves into questions of methodology and approach. Three such questions face the field now and in the near future. First, historians, law scholars, and anthropologists with their different training and bases of knowledge, ask different questions about law. Second, comparative law inextricably intertwines with Chinese legal history, and its use and abuse needs to be examined and its lessons be better learned. Third, given the sophistication for centuries of Chinese rulers’ efforts to propagate official lines about the law, it has been exceedingly difficult for scholars to pierce through it to see what was actually happening on the ground. Improvement in this will help us understand how, and the extent to which, substantive law reached the population during different periods of China’s history.

Keywords: Chinese law, legal history, China, legal historiography, comparative law

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