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Speaker Series: Johanna Ransmeier - History, University of Chicago

  • When: May 22, 2019, 12–1:30 pm
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th floor, Lakeside, Chicago, IL 60611

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Photo and bio courtesy of the University of Chicago

Johanna Ransmeier's research explores the relationship between family life and the law in modern China, often through the lens of crime. She is presently completing a book on the trafficking of people in North China during the late Qing and Republican period. Transactions in people remained an intimate and essential part of life for many throughout this time of transition. In this book, she demonstrates that despite traffickers most frequent protestations poverty was not solely to blame. Traditional Chinese family structure itself enabled a highly flexible market for everyone from slaves, servants, wives, concubines, wet nurses, prostitutes, private drivers, funeral musicians, and apprentice street performers.

Her next project will introduce the concept of legal literacy in the early twentieth century. In this new area of research, she asks a question with special resonance for China today: What happens when citizens’ legitimate expectations of the law get ahead of the ability of legal institutions to deliver on the promise of new legislation? These research endeavors build upon longstanding interests. Between college and graduate school she worked in the field of human rights advocacy, serving as an interpreter and assistant to Chinese activists. Prior to joining the University of Chicago she taught in the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill University.

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