Ke Li is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. Her research focuses on law, legal professions, courts and women’s rights in China. In 2022, her book, Marriage Unbound: State Law, Power, and Inequality in Contemporary China, was published by Stanford University Press.
On a hot summer day, Wang Guiping attended her divorce trial at the Xiqing People’s Tribunal. Taking an unfaithful spouse to court, Guiping thought, would help her end a hopeless relationship and realize her spousal and property rights upon divorce. Later that day, Guiping would find herself betrayed not only by her husband, but by the court system and her legal counsel. Taking Guiping’s case as a point of departure, Ke Li recounts decades-long research on marital disputes and divorce lawsuits in rural China. And this talk ultimately shows how women’s legal mobilization and rights contention can forge new ground for our under-standing of law and politics, culture and the state, power and inequality in an authoritarian context.