Law and Society in East Asia
This seminar aims to discuss the social / historical bases on which a modern legal system might operate in various East Asian societies, and to provide an introduction to some of those problems involving the integration of different legal traditions into a pluralistic yet coherent legal regime. We will focus on the tensions experienced by these
societies, involving the importation of what were presented as "universal" values and norms, and the near-universal resistance to these values and norms, such resistance being based on the notions of custom and tradition. While the initial focus will be mainly on the experiences concerning the formation of legal institutions in China and Japan, students will be encouraged to bring in perspectives from other societies as well. The problems discussed will include: the difficulties regarding what exactly can be identified as East Asian legal traditions; how legal regimes were structured through the actions of actors exploiting the plurality of legal traditions; and how the relationship between legal arrangements and the political power-structure played out. Particular attention will also be paid to the issues of colonialism, and the uneasy relationship between Modernisation, Westernisation and Colonisation in these societies. The ability to read source materials written in Chinese and/or Japanese would be of much help, but will not be essential.