China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

Reconsidering Law and Imperialism in China, 1842-1943

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Jacaranda I, First Floor

Law is central to understanding foreign imperialism in China in the treaty port century (1842-1943). The very phrase ‘treaty port’ itself underlines the importance of legal structures in defining China’s relationship with Europe and the United States. Yet this panel argues that law was not just a tool of western imperial domination, but acted in numerous complex ways with surprising effects. The panel also rewrites the geography of Sino-foreign contact in this period, examining the effect of foreign legal privileges in China’s far west as well as in the treaty ports on its east coast. Jonathan Chappell’s paper explores how the international laws of war were used in the Sino-French and Sino-Japanese Wars, arguing that ideas of international law were used as much by foreign governments to control their own populations in China as they were to mediate Sino-foreign relations. Joshua Sooter’s paper suggests that the privileges afforded to foreign missionaries led Qing officials to distinguish Christianity from other religions and eventually to reconceptualize religious categories. Thus, Qing officials began to divide religions between the ‘familiar’ and the ‘unfamiliar’ rather than using the traditional ‘orthodox-heterodox’ dichotomy. Emily Whewell’s paper argues that British extraterritorial jurisdiction in Xinjiang should be regarded as an extension of the jurisdiction of British India. A study of the exercise of this jurisdiction reveals the increasing power of Chinese officials in Xinjiang from the 1920s, suggesting that the abrogation of the Sino-foreign treaties was a gradual process, not sharply delineated by the official abrogation of 1943.

Jonathan Carl. Chappell

London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

Presentation(s):

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Jonathan Carl. Chappell

London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Jonathan Chappell

Jonathan Carl. Chappell

London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Jonathan Chappell

Joshua Sooter

New York University, United States

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Joshua Sooter

Emily Whewell

Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Germany

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Emily Whewell


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