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Christian Chroniclers of Chinese Cruelty: Western Misperceptions of Chinese Criminal Justice

University of Michigan's Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk by Professor Thomas Buoye on Christian missionaries' depictions of Chinese criminal justice .

February 19, 2010 12:00am

For a variety of psychological, political and economic reasons, Western observers have historically misrepresented China's legal heritage and criminal justice system. At least since the eighteenth century, critics have cited several infamous "miscarriages" of justice involving Westerners to illustrate the inequity of Chinese law. A variety of facile dichotomies often have obfuscated rather than illuminated China's legal heritage. These include the oversimplified notion of Confucian versus Legalist ideologies and the Weberian-inspired constructions of modern/rational versus traditional/irrational law. Similarly, the conflation of the legal practices and institutions of the People's Republic of China with the imperial institutions has contributed to Western misunderstandings. This presentation will examine one wellspring of misinformation, Christian missionaries' depictions of Chinese criminal justice.

Tom Buoye is associate professor and chair of the History Department at the University of Tulsa. His dissertation on violent disputes over property rights in eighteenth-century Guangdong was directed by Albert Feuerwerker and Ernest Young. Most recently he has been working on Qing legal history, particularly the administration of capital punishment.

Time: 12:00 pm-1:00 pm
Location: University of Michigan, School of Social Work Building, Room 1636

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