Congratulations to Dr Jianlin Chen and Dr Shitong Qiao who were recently awarded their doctorates in law.
Dr Jianlin Chen obtained his JSD from the University of Chicago (Faculty of Law) for his thesis entitled "Law & Religious Market: Theoretical Perspective and Case Study Application of China". His supervisors were Professors Tom Ginsburg and Lisa Bernstein. Parts of his dissertation have been published in the Asian Journal of Comparative Law, Oxford Journal of Law and Religion and Journal of Law, Religion and State. Details can be found on Dr Chen's SSRN page. His thesis abstract reads as follows:
This J.S.D. dissertation presents Law & Religious Market as an alternative critical perspective to examine the normative considerations that are associated with laws/policies affecting religion. The current legal discourse on religious liberty posits the proper role of the law and other state instruments in relation to religious matters as a neutral arbitrator that avoids making normative claims as to the merits or shortcomings of any particular religion. Drawing from sociological research on religions, the foundational premise of Law & Religious Market perspective is the recognition that the impact of law (and other state instruments) on religion extends beyond circumstances where there are conscious and/or explicit support/suppression of particular religions or religion in general. Law continues to exert a far-reaching influence on prevailing religions and religious practices within jurisdictions through shaping the permissible competitive interaction between religions and the consequent effects on the identities and characteristics of the religions that emerge victorious over their religious rivals. Thus, Law & Religious Market perspective argues that legal discourse cannot hide behind a veil of religious neutrality and must confront the conversation regarding what sort of religious competition – and the consequent winner in the religious market – should be fostered by the state.This dissertation also utilizes the case study of China to highlight the factual and normative contributions that can be derived from the perspective. Factually, the case study lay out the precise nature of religious competition as envisaged by the current legal regime in China beyond the typical mere identification of how religious practices are restricted in China in the current literature. Normatively, the case study argues that although the current legal regime is excessively involved in heavy-handed interventions driven by compulsive concerns for political control, the conscious differentiation of religions based on their practical impact on society – not their theological content – is the necessary and appropriate inquiry that should be preserved in any actual reform. In addition, the case study argues that even if a religious free market is the normative goal of reform, several of the current restrictions on religious activities are useful for moderating religious competition during the transition from the relatively infant religious market of China.
Dr Shitong Qiao obtained his JSD from the Yale Law School; the members of his thesis panel included Professors Robert Ellickson (Chair), Susan Rose-Ackerman (reader) and Paul Gewirtz (reader). The thesis "Chinese Small Property: The Co-Evolution of Law and Social Norms" has been partly published (or accepted for publication) in the American Journal of Comparative Law, Canadian Journal of Law and Society and a chapter of Law and Economics of Possession (Chang ed, CUP 2015). See Dr Qiao's SSRN page. Thesis abstract:
This research investigates a market of informal real estate in China, referenced by the term “small property” (xiaochanquan), as their property rights are smaller/weaker than the big/formal property rights. In particular, I examine the formation and operation of this market, and how it interacts with the legal system and eventually leads to changes in the Chinese property law system. This case study endeavors to explore the co-evolution of property law and norms in the Chinese market transition. First, it finds that property norms changed more swiftly than property law and served as imperfect institutional infrastructure for a market economy at the beginning of the Chinese market transition. Second, it discloses a more dynamic interaction between law and social norms. In particular, it explores how a layered and fragmented legal system leaves room for the growth of property norms, and how the ad hoc legal responses to the deviating property norms lead to changes in both the property norms and property law itself. Overall it presents a story about the evolution of property rights with consideration of political, economic and communal factors combined, as opposed to the existing case studies that focus on only one of the above three aspects. At the methodology level, this research endeavors to combine on-the-ground observations with insights from social sciences, in particular, law and economics.