• Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2003

Research Interests

  • Contemporary Chinese society
  • Social conflict
  • Justice systems
  • Lawyers
  • Globalization
  • Institutions and institutional change

Courses Recently Taught

  • EALC E204, Contemporary Chinese Society
  • EALC E350, Law and Society in Contemporary China
  • SOC S315, Work and Occupations
  • SOC S326, Law and Society
  • SOC S346, Topics in Cross-Cultural Sociology: Work in Global Perspective
  • SOC S660, Law and Globalization

Awards and Distinctions

  • US Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Program, 2009-2010
  • 2008 Gordon White Prize for most original article or research report published in The China Quarterly
  • Indiana University Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, 2007-2008
  • Hopkins-Nanjing Center, Institute for International Research, In-Residence Research Fellowship, 2006-2007
  • Obermann Center for Advanced Studies Interdisciplinary Research, The University of Iowa, 2005
  • American Bar Foundation, Doctoral Fellowship, 2001-2003
  • Fulbright-Hays, Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, 1999-2000
  • National Science Foundation, Law and Social Science Program, Grant for Improving Doctoral Dissertation Research, 1999-2000
  • Social Science Research Council, International Dissertation Field Research Fellowship, 1999-2000

Publication Highlights

  • Forthcoming. “Gender Inequality in the Chinese Legal Profession.” Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 18 (Work and Organizations in China), edited by Lisa A. Keister.
  • Forthcoming. “Family Planning Policy Enforcement in Rural China: Enduring State-Society Conflict?” In Growing Pains: Tensions and Opportunity in China’s Transformation, edited by Jean C. Oi, Scott Rozelle, and Xueguang Zhou. Stanford, CA: Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center, distributed by Brookings Institution Press.
  • Forthcoming. “Public Attitudes toward Official Justice in Beijing and Rural China.” In Chinese Justice: Civil Dispute Resolution in Contemporary China, edited by Margaret Y.K. Woo, Mary E. Gallagher, and Merle Goldman. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (with Benjamin L. Read).
  • 2008. “Mediating the Mediation Debate: Conflict Resolution and the Local State in China.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 52(5): 737-64 (with Benjamin L. Read).
  • 2008. “Dear Lawyer Bao: Everyday Problems, Legal Advice, and State Power in China.” Social Problems 55(1): 43-71.
  • 2008. “Justice from Above or Below? Popular Strategies for Resolving Grievances in Rural China.” The China Quarterly 193: 43–64. Winner of the 2008 Gordon White Prize for most original article or research report published in The China Quarterly
  • 2007. “Lawyers, Political Embeddedness, and Institutional Continuity in China’s Transition from Socialism.” American Journal of Sociology 113(2): 352–414
  • Abridged and edited version to be reprinted in Lawyers and the Construction of the Rule of Law: National and Transnational Processes, edited by Yves Dezalay and Bryant Garth.
  • 2007. “Climbing the Dispute Pagoda: Grievances and Appeals to the Official Justice System in Rural China.” American Sociological Review 72(3): 459–85
  • 2006. “The Practice of Law as an Obstacle to Justice: Chinese Lawyers at Work.” Law & Society Review 40(1): 1–38.

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 six years, three of which were spent in Beijing collaborating with scholars at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Renmin University of China.

I am currently studying rural state-society relations, their historical influences, and their recent changes in the wake of China's "harmonious society" policies. I am particularly interested in assessing the extent to which and the mechanisms by which local state-society relations have been shaped by local memories of historical events.