This seminar investigates legal information about aliens and foreign countries collected in two types of source. The first is Ming official accounts of diplomatic missions. The second is popular daily encyclopaedias (riyong leishu 日用類書) compiled and published in south China during the last few decades of the Ming (1368-1644). These popular works catered to the tastes of the new urban class, which sought knowledge and entertainment from self-studying guidebooks. These two types of source show that the Ming reading public conceived of a world far larger and more complex than earlier generations had imagined. The sources also recognise that although some foreign peoples might have lacked formal penal codes, they were by no means lawless. They acknowledge that communities living outside Ming territory had social orders that different differed significantly from that of the Ming state, but that those alternative modes of justice, though exotic, were not inferior to Chinese legal systems.

The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

Event Speakers

Tam Ka-chai

Tam Ka-chai 

Tam Ka-chai is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the Hong Kong Baptist University. As well as legal history, his areas of research interest include the maritime and transportation history of East Asia from the 14th to 21st centuries, and the development of Historical Geographical Information Systems (GIS). 

Event details

Event date

Thu, 10 Aug 2023, 4 - 5:30pm

Event speakers

Tam Ka-chai