Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cassel on Extraterritoriality and Imperial Power in 19th C China and Japan

 Here's the book description:
Perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, the nineteenth century encounter between East Asia and the Western world has been narrated as a legal encounter. Commercial treaties--negotiated by diplomats and focused on trade--framed the relationships among Tokugawa-Meiji Japan, Qing China, Choson Korea, and Western countries including Britain, France, and the United States. These treaties created a new legal order, very different than the colonial relationships that the West forged with other parts of the globe, which developed in dialogue with local precedents, local understandings of power, and local institutions. They established the rules by which foreign sojourners worked in East Asia, granting them near complete immunity from local laws and jurisdiction. The laws of extraterritoriality looked similar on paper but had very different trajectories in different East Asian countries.

Par Cassel's first book explores extraterritoriality and the ways in which Western power operated in Japan and China from the 1820s to the 1920s. In Japan, the treaties established in the 1850s were abolished after drastic regime change a decade later and replaced by European-style reciprocal agreements by the turn of the century. In China, extraterritoriality stood for a hundred years, with treaties governing nearly one hundred treaty ports, extensive Christian missionary activity, foreign controlled railroads and mines, and other foreign interests, and of such complexity that even international lawyers couldn't easily interpret them. Extraterritoriality provided the springboard for foreign domination and has left Asia with a legacy of suspicion towards international law and organizations. The issue of unequal treaties has had a lasting effect on relations between East Asia and the West.

Drawing on primary sources in Chinese, Japanese, Manchu, and several European languages, Cassel has written the first book to deal with exterritoriality in Sino-Japanese relations before 1895 and the triangular relationship between China, Japan, and the West. Grounds of Judgment is a groundbreaking history of Asian engagement with the outside world and within the region, with broader applications to understanding international history, law, and politics.
And the endorsements:

"Minutely argued and cogently presented, Par Cassel's Grounds of Judgment gives us a completely new base line from which to examine the practice of extraterritoriality from both the Chinese and the Japanese legal perspectives. An absorbing and valuable book." --Jonathan Spence, author of The Search for Modern China

"This sophisticated analysis of the changing legal orders in nineteenth-century East Asia nicely explodes the old dichotomy between Western international law and Chinese and Japanese responses to it. Cassel shows that even the seemingly immovable obstacle of extraterritoriality was subject to flexible interpretations that derived from domestic legal practices, which affected not only Westerners but also Japanese and Chinese in the treaty ports of the two countries. An impressive contribution both to international legal history and to the history of modern East Asia." --Carol Gluck, Columbia University

"Relying on primary and secondary sources in a host of languages, Par Cassel's new book offers the most thoroughgoing comparative examination of treaty port law and jurisdiction for late imperial China and late-Tokugawa and Meiji Japan. Especially interesting in his analysis is the treatment of the highly controversial topic extraterritoriality-with fascinating insights and stunning conclusions. This is a must read for anyone interested in late-Qing China, Tokugawa-Meiji Japan, or comparative legal history." --Joshua A. Fogel, Canada Research Chair, York University

"This is an impressive and important book. Cassel has gone back to the basics underpinning the nineteenth-century 'unequal treaties' between the different Western powers and China and Japan, and equally importantly those signed between the latter. Rich in comparative insight, Grounds of Judgement draws on an exemplary range of sources and clearly and engagingly re-writes long-unquestioned narratives. With this book Cassel compels us to rethink our fundamental assumptions about this complex tangle of relationships, and about the East Asian experience of the age of empires and its lasting legacies." --Robert Bickers, author of The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914