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State, Sovereignty, and the People: A Comparison of the 'Rule of Law' in China and India

Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 68, No. 1, February 2009

Posted: 3 Sep 2008  

Jonathan Ocko

North Carolina State University - Department of History; Duke University School of Law

David Gilmartin

North Carolina State University - Department of History

Date Written: September 2, 2008

Abstract

This paper uses the concept of rule of law to compare Qing China and British India. Rather than using rule of law instrumentally, the paper embeds it in the histories of state power and sovereignty in China and India. Three themes, all framed by rule of law and rule of man as oppositional, yet paradoxically intertwined, notions, organize the paper's comparisons: the role of a discourse of law in simultaneously legitimizing and constraining the political authority of the state; the role of law and legal procedures in shaping and defining society; the role of law in defining an economic and social order based on contract, property, and rights. A fourth section considers the implications of these findings for the historical trajectories of China and India in the 20th century. Taking law as an instrument of power and an imagined realm that nonetheless also transcended power and operated outside its ambit, the paper seeks to broaden the history of rule of law beyond Euro-America.

Suggested Citation

Ocko, Jonathan and Gilmartin, David, State, Sovereignty, and the People: A Comparison of the 'Rule of Law' in China and India (September 2, 2008). Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 68, No. 1, February 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1262410

Jonathan Ocko (Contact Author)

North Carolina State University - Department of History ( email )

Box 8108
Raleigh, NC 27695-8108
United States

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

David Gilmartin

North Carolina State University - Department of History

Box 8108
Raleigh, NC 27695-8108
United States

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