Cover: Legal Orientalism: China, the United States, and Modern Law, from Harvard University PressCover: Legal Orientalism in HARDCOVER

Legal Orientalism

China, the United States, and Modern Law

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Product Details


$49.50 • £39.95 • €44.50

ISBN 9780674073067

Publication Date: 06/03/2013


352 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

4 halftones


This well-researched, thought-provoking book applies the analytical framework of Orientalism to the study of Chinese law. The book is much more than a study of the Chinese legal system. It provides a commentary on how an Orientalist interpretation denied the existence of law in China and provided the basis for the development of an American philosophy of empire that has influenced not only U.S. interactions with China but also America’s relations with much of the non-European world… The book is a welcome addition to the growing literature in comparative legal studies and is a must read not only for students of Chinese and U.S. law but also for those interested in the larger questions concerning relations between the West and the non-European world.—H. Shambayati, Choice

This breakthrough book places the legal study of China’s relationship to the West, and vice versa, on a new and deep foundation. It deserves serious attention from any thoughtful student of comparative law.—Bruce Ackerman, Yale University

Extraterritoriality was the exception until it became the norm—an anomaly of jurisdiction that set the precedent for other practices including extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, offshore prisons, and drone attacks. A history of conceptual makeshifts, illocutionary effects, and massive legal fictions, Legal Orientalism, painstakingly researched, humorous, and dispassionate, uniquely accounts for the ambiguous place of China in the institutions of modernity.—Haun Saussy, University of Chicago

Teemu Ruskola has written a provocative book on legal orientalism, a subject that he conceptualizes and explores with originality and sophistication. His book makes an important contribution to multiple fields. On the one hand, it is a historical analysis that illuminates important aspects of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century world history. On the other, this book is urgently contemporary, speaking to interest in legal studies and the social sciences about the place of law and legal reform in present-day China.—Mae Ngai, Columbia University

Ruskola has written a work that stretches across time, place and legal jurisdiction; Legal Orientalism shows a scholarly mind for detail, combined with a rare degree of expansiveness and reach. A remarkable book.—Michael Dutton, Goldsmiths University of London

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