Dean Lung Professor of Chinese Studies; Professor of History, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Department of History
Modern legal history and the role of law in the Chinese economy
Professor Zelin has pioneered the study of Chinese legal and economic history. Her book The Merchants of Zigong: Industrial Enterprise in Early Modern China (Columbia University Press, 2005), a study of the indigenous roots of Chinese economic culture and business practice was awarded the 2006 Allan Sharlin Memorial Prize of the Social Science History Association, the 2006 Fairbank Prize of the Association for Asian Studies and the 2007 Humanities Book Prize of the International Convention on Asian Studies.
In addition to teaching the advanced modern Chinese history survey and general graduate seminars and colloquia on modern Chinese history, Professor Zelin offers courses on Chinese legal and economic history and the history of social movements in China. Beginning with her PhD work at the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Zelin has taken an iconoclastic approach to the complex forces shaping modern China. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters, Professor Zelin is author of The Magistrate’s Tael (University of California Press, 1984),coeditor of Contract and Property Rights in Early Modern China, (Stanford University Press, 2004), coeditor of Nation and Beyond: Chinese History in Later Imperial and Modern Times (University of California Press, 2006),and translator of Mao Dun’s Rainbow (University of California Press, 1992).
Professor Zelin’s current research focuses on legal history and the role of law in the Chinese economy. She has written on the evolution of shareholding and business organization in China, state handling of economic disputes, and the role of chambers of commerce as new sites for economic mediation. Professor Zelin has been on the Columbia faculty since 1979.