Li CHEN received a J.D. from the University of Illinois (magna cum laude), and then a Ph.D. in Chinese History from Columbia University.
He research focuses on critical analysis of the intersections of law, culture, and politics in the context of Chinese and international history since 1500. More specifically, he is interested in studying or understanding late imperial and modern Chinese history, international law and relations, Chinese law and society, law and empire, power/knowledge and modern governmentality, science and biopower in jurisprudence, cultural encounters and Orientalism, postcolonial studies and critical historiography.
His monograph, Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes: Sovereignty, Justice, and Transcultural Politics will be published by Columbia University Press (2016). A volume he has co-edited with Madeleine Zelin, Chinese Law: Knowledge, Practice, and Transformation, 1530s-1950s, was published in early 2015. He is currently finishing up another book, funded by a SSHRC grant, tentatively entitled "Invisible Power, Legal Specialists, and the Juridical Field in Late Imperial China, 1611-1911."
His other recent publications include:
(1) "Legal Specialists and Judicial Administration in Late Imperial China, 1651-1911," Late Imperial China 31, no. 1 (June 2012), 1-54 (Chinese translation: 帝制中国晚期的法律专家与地方司法运作(1651-1911),” in Jianpeng Deng, ed., Qing diguo sifa de shijian, kongjian yu canyuzhe清帝国司法的时间、空间与参与者 (Shehui kexue chubanshe, 2015);
(2) "Law, Empire, and Historiography of Modern Sino-Western Relations: A Case Study of the Lady Hughes Controversy in 1784," Law & History Review 27, no. 1 (2009), 1-53 (which won Honorable Mention for the Law and Society Association's 2011 Article Prize, and was translated and published by the Peking University Law Review in 2011, as "法律、帝国与近代中西关系历史学：1784年‘休斯女士号’冲突的个案研究,” 北大法律评论 [Peking University Law Review] 12, no. 2 (Sept. 2011): 437-81));
(3) "Universalism and Equal Sovereignty as Contested Myths of International Law in the Sino-Western Encounter," Journal of the History of International Law / Revue d'histoire du droit international 13, no. 1 (2011), 75-116;
(4) 知识的力量：清代幕友秘本和公开出版的律学著作对清代司法场域的影响 [Power of Knowledge: The Role of Secret and Published Treatises of Private Legal Specialists in the Qing Juridical Field],” Zhejiang daxue xuebao浙江大学学报 [Journal of Zhejiang University] 45, no. 1 (Jan. 2015). Scheduled to be translated and published in Chinese by Legal History Studies.
(5) “Affective Sovereignty and China’s Legal Status in the Nineteenth Century,” in The Scaffold of Sovereignty: A Global Interdisciplinary Approach, edited by Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, Stefanos Geroulanos and Nichole Jerr (under contract with New York: Columbia University Press);
(6) “Regulating Private Legal Specialists and the Limits of Imperial Power in Qing China,” in Li Chen and Madeleine Zelin, eds., Chinese Law: Knowledge, Practice, and Transformation, 1530s-1950s (Leiden: Brill, Feb. 2015). Scheduled to be translated and published in Chinese by the Fudan Law Journal in 2015.
He is revising a few other articles for publication. These articles deal with issues such as emotions and international politics in the 19th century, late imperial Chinese jurists and legal culture, imperial sovereignty and capital punishments in Qing China, and Chinese debates on legal reform and modernity in the 1870s-1910s. His research has been supported by grants from the Connaught Foundation, the University of Toronto, and the SSHRC of Canada. His is the founding President of the International Society for Chinese Law and History.