- (812) 856-1521
- School of Global and International Studies 2031
- Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2003
- Contemporary Chinese society
- Law & Society
Courses Recently Taught
- EALC E170, Contemporary Chinese Society
- EALC E391/INTL L351, Law & Authoritarianism Through the Lens of China
- SOC S326, Law & Society
Awards and Distinctions
- 2020 Honorable Mention for the Distinguished Article Award of the American Sociological Association Section on the Sociology of Law
- US Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Program, 2009-2010
- 2009 Research Article Award of the American Sociological Association Section on Asia & Asian America
- 2008 Gordon White Prize for most original article or research report published in The China Quarterly
- Indiana University Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, 2007-2008
- 2022. Decoupling: Gender Injustice in China’s Divorce Courts. Cambridge University Press.
- 2020. Ethan Michelson “Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law: Why Wife-Beaters Are Awarded Child Custody in China’s Divorce Courts.” Journal of Comparative Law 15(2): 126-159.
- 2020. Ethan Michelson “In Search of Activist Lawyers in China: A Time Machine Back to the Heyday of Political Activism in the Chinese Legal Profession.” Wisconsin International Law Journal 37(2): 350-414.
- 2019. Ethan Michelson. “Many Voices in China’s Legal Profession: Plural Meanings of Weiquan.” China Law and Society Review 4(2): 71-101.
- 2019. Ethan Michelson “Decoupling: Marital Violence and the Struggle to Divorce in China.” American Journal of Sociology 125(2): 325-381.
My interest in China started with studying the language as an undergraduate student at McGill University. After struggling for a year, I abandoned Chinese language study in frustration. But it was an anthropology class on contemporary China (with Laurel Bossen) the following year that renewed my interest and pushed me to give Chinese language study another chance. I devoted the summer of 1991 to intensive language training at Xiamen University. (The moral of the story: it's a difficult language to learn, but don't give up!) After graduating in 1992, I spent a year studying Chinese at Nanjing University before pursuing graduate studies in sociology at the University of Chicago. Since the early 1990s I have lived in China for over eight years, four of which were spent in Beijing collaborating with scholars at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Renmin University of China.
My recent book, Decoupling: Gender Injustice in China’s Divorce Courts (Cambridge University Press, 2022), is a “big data” analysis of almost 150,000 divorce trials from all 252 basic-level courts in two Chinese provinces, Henan and Zhejiang. It reveals and explains routine and egregious violations of China’s own laws upholding the freedom of divorce, gender equality, and the protection of women’s physical security.