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How do legal systems actually operate outside of Western European or North American liberal democracies? To understand law and legal institutions globally we must go beyond asking if countries comply with idealized, yet under-theorized, rule of law principles to determine how they work in practice. Examining legal regimes across different areas of criminal and civil law in both urban and rural China and Indonesia during distinct periods from 1949 to the present, this study offers a new way of understanding how cases are adjudicated (and with what political, social, and economic implications) across authoritarian, developing, post-colonial, and newly democratizing settings. This is the first systematic comparative study of the world’s largest Communist and majority-Muslim nations and the most comprehensive scholarly work in many years on the micro-level workings of either the Chinese or Indonesian legal system at the grass-roots, based on a decade of research and extensive fieldwork in multiple Indonesian and Chinese provinces.
William Hurst is the Chong Hua Professor of Chinese Development, Deputy Director of the Centre for Geopolitics, and Fellow and Tutor of Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge. Previously, he has held faculty positions at Northwestern University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Texas at Austin, as well as postdoctoral and research fellowships at Oxford and Harvard. He is the author of The Chinese Worker after Socialism (Cambridge 2009) and Ruling Before the Law: the Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia (Cambridge 2018), alongside four edited volumes, over two dozen journal articles and book chapters, and more than twenty essays, op-eds, and other short pieces. His current and ongoing research focuses particularly on the political economy of land and land reform in Mainland China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia since 1945, the dynamics of US-China relations since 1900, and the geopolitics of the South China Sea.