Residential Faculty Fellow, Spring 2014
Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Minnesota Duluth
“Revolutionary Judiciaries: The Making of the People’s Courts in the Early People’s Republic of China (1949-1958)”
The contemporary Chinese legal reform has received enormous attention from scholars around the world. However, an earlier but crucial legal reform in the early 1950s has largely been ignored mostly due to the paucity of archival sources. Most studies on the law in that period are not only very brief but also tangential. Recently, a large collection of archives of Shanghai courts has been released, which paves the way for scholars to better understand the political dynamics and Republic of China (ROC)’s legacies underlying the formation, development, and practice of the people’s court in the early PRC. Drawing on the new archives, this paper aims to address the extent to which the communist ideology and the Soviet judicial models have on the early PRC judicial reform, especially the rulings of communist judges in criminal and civil cases; the paper will also examine the internal complexity of the people’s court, judges, and their relations with the Communist government in the early PRC. Both efforts will help throw some new light on the widely accepted ideas that the early PRC was a period of “extralegal terror” and the era between 1953 and 1956 was a golden age for PRC judiciary.