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Legal Orientalism

Legal Orientalism

Teemu Ruskola
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Legal Orientalism
    Book Description:

    After the Cold War, how did China become a global symbol of disregard for human rights, while the U.S positioned itself as the chief exporter of the rule of law? Teemu Ruskola investigates globally circulating narratives about what law is and who has it, and shows how "legal Orientalism" developed into a distinctly American ideology of empire.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-07576-4
    Subjects: Law, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [ix]-[xii])
  3. CHAPTER ONE Introduction: Legal Orientalism
    (pp. 1-29)

    LAW’S ORIENT CONSTITUTES a wide and uneven terrain. This book describes the itinerary of one particular journey across that terrain, with a focus on China and the United States. Law is a key aspect of the political ontology of the modern world. It is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for us to think of politics outside of the framework of states, and of states outside of law. At the same time, no understanding of the world today is complete without consideration of China’s place in it. The difficulties begin when we seek to combine the inquiries into law and China....

  4. CHAPTER TWO Making Legal and Unlegal Subjects in History
    (pp. 30-59)

    A CITATION TO Michel Foucault’s citation of a Chinese encyclopedia in the preface to The Order of Things is by now de rigueur in comparative studies of Chinese culture.¹ The shortcomings of Chinese law, like much else in China, are often blamed on a cultural confusion of categories. Perhaps most notably, Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws finds in China a fatal conflation of religion, mores, manners, and laws, all of which are said to find expression in the all-purpose Confucian category of rites.² Such claims have great intuitive appeal. Like the brilliantly patronizing encyclopedia entry described by Foucault, they accord...

  5. CHAPTER THREE Telling Stories about Corporations and Kinship
    (pp. 60-107)

    GIVEN ORIENTALISM AS a general condition of knowledge, how then might a comparative study of Chinese law proceed? This chapter examines the operation of legal Orientalism in a specific field: Chinese corporation law. The subject matter may sound like a rather modern and technical one—neither particularly Chinese nor a very likely candidate for the attention of classical Orientalists. Indeed, as the reader will by now have anticipated, the problem with the study of a Chinese tradition of corporation law is precisely a deeply embedded presumption that no such tradition exists—Chinese corporation law has no history. The task of...

  6. CHAPTER FOUR Canton Is Not Boston
    (pp. 108-151)

    WHEN THE ABOUT-TO-BE-BORN United States of America rose in rebellion against Great Britain in 1776, the very first sentence of its Declaration of Independence appeared to envision a world of states that are “separate and equal,” calling for Great Britain simply to acknowledge that the United States, too, rightfully occupied that equal status—nothing more, nothing less. While the language of the Declaration of Independence was stirring in its magnificent simplicity and its righteous invocation of “the Laws of Nature” and of “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind,” eventually a very different juridical conception of the world came...

  7. CHAPTER FIVE The District of China Is Not the District of Columbia
    (pp. 152-197)

    THIS CHAPTER CONTINUES to trace the transformation of legal Orientalism as a regime of comparative knowledge about China into a regime of legal institutions, as well as the ultimate collapse of that distinction. Chapter 4 told a story of how legal Orientalism shaped the international legal basis for extraterritorial jurisdiction in China as well as the development of the domestic legal order of the United States. This chapter examines in greater detail just how American lawyers took up their civilizational burden in the Orient and how U.S. legal institutions functioned in the paradoxical conditions created by extraterritoriality. It is an...

  8. CHAPTER SIX Epilogue: Colonialism without Colonizers
    (pp. 198-236)

    IF SUCH IS the historical itinerary of legal Orientalism, or at least a partial account of its global travels, what is its contemporary status, especially in light of the extraordinary law reforms that have taken place in China since 1978? Given that U.S. extraterritorial jurisdiction in China was abolished formally in 1943—it had already ended de facto with the Japanese occupation—what is the standing of U.S. law in China today? And what is the status of China in the American legal imagination? Even as China’s economic and political status has risen globally, its legal standing seems to be...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 237-320)
  10. Comment on Chinese Sources
    (pp. 321-322)
  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 323-326)
  12. Index
    (pp. 327-338)