Jonathan Ocko 欧中坦

Professor, Department Head

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I am a historian of modern China and received my PhD in 1975 from Yale, where I  worked with Jonathan Spence.  Prior to coming to NCSU, I taught at Clark University in Worcester, MA and Wellesely College.  In addition to teaching at NCSU, I also teach courses on Chinese Legal History and Chinese Law and Society at Duke School of Law, where I am an Adjunct Professor of Legal History.

My current research focuses on two projects.  First, I am completing a long-term study on concepts of justice in late imperial China.  Second, I am  conducting research on the intersection of economic and legal cultures with particular attention to whether one can see a legal consciousness in play when Chinese in late imperial and contemporary China established economic relationships.  This second project draws on a careful reading of historical contracts and on interviews with contemporary entrepreneurs.  Below is a sample of contracts with which I have been working.

(A land deed from 1722 attached to a 1914 confirmed official deed)


Graduate Advisees

Recent Work & Publications

  • Contract and Property in Early Modern China. Stanford University Press, 2004
  • “The Missing Metaphor: Applying Western Legal Scholarship to the Study of Contract and Property in Early Modern China.” in Contract and Property in Early Modern China, ed. Madeleine Zelin, Jonathan K. Ocko, and Robert Gardella (Stanford University Press, 2004) pp. 178-208
  • “Interpretive Communities: Legal Meaning in Qing Law.” in Writing and Law in Late Imperial China: Crime, Conflict, and Judgment, ed. Robert Hegal and Katherine Carlitz (University of Washington Press, 2007) pp. 261-283
  • “State, Sovereignty, and the People: A Comparison of the “Rule of Law” in China and India.” Journal of Asian Studies , no. 68.1 (February, 2009 ): 55-100
  • “Concepts of Justice in Late Imperial China.” Columbia Law School. (January 26, 2010)

Contact Information

  • Office Location

    Withers 352

  • Phone: 919.515.3307
  • Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • Office Hours

    SPRING 2015

    By appointment- Dr. Ocko is teaching at Duke for the spring semester


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350 Withers Hall, Campus Box 8108, Raleigh, NC 27695-8108
Phone: 919.515.2483 Fax: 919.515.3886

College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of History