I am a legal anthropologist and property scholar with a broad interest in law, equality, and social change. I have two strands of research, one focusing on issues in China and the other on issues in the United States. My work on China examines how property law shapes and is shaped by China’s social transformation and economic development. I look at how the Chinese state uses property law to create development opportunities and deal with development-inflicted problems, and how state actions and inactions affect class formation and government legitimacy. These issues have taken me to two distinct regions in China, where I conduct ethnographic studies on agriculture, rural livelihoods, government social programs, urbanization, legal enforcement and deviation, and changing norms and structures of authority and legitimacy.
My other strand of research examines how property law shapes racial and class inequality in the United States and what legal changes might be realizable to advance social justice. I pursue this line of work from two contrasting angles. On the one hand, I draw from Critical Legal Studies and Critical Race Theory and analyze how existing fair housing law is ill-equipped to combat structural inequality in housing. On the other hand, I investigate underexplored areas (such as coded racism and seemingly boring legal doctrine) as potential avenues to make existing law more effective at combating racial and class inequality.
Nondiscrimination as a Property Right, in Re-Conceiving Equality and Freedom: Vulnerability, Dependency, and the Responsive State (Martha Fineman & Laura Spitz eds., forthcoming 2022)
“A Glass of Milk Strengthens a Nation.” Law, Development, and China’s Dairy Tale, 16 J. Food L. & Pol’y 78 (2020)
Dairy Tales: Global Portraits of Milk and Law, 16 J. Food L. & Pol’y 1 (2020) (with Jessica Eisen and Erum Sattar)
“Put That Bucket Down!”: Money, Politics, and Property Rights in Urbanizing China¸ 44 Vt. L. Rev. 243 (2019)
Encounter: How Duncan Kennedy and Chinese Legal Scholars View Legal Transplants and the Rule of Law, 9 Front. L. China 561 (2014)
Ideas, Beliefs, Attitudes, and the Law: Private Law Perspectives on a Public Law Problem (Chinese Translation), Peking University Press, 2012.
When American Law Meets Chinese Law Eye to Eye: How Two Legal Systems Approach the Duty to Protect, 10(2) Global Juris. Article 5 (2010)
605 Property (Spring Semester, Each Year)
627B Private Property Rights (Fall Semester, 2020)
603N Property, Social Justice & the Environment (Fall Semester, Each Year)
643F Law and Development in Asia (Fall Semester, Starting 2023)
Property Law, Political Economy, Equality, Social Change, China