SOAS University of London

China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Dr Ernest Caldwell

BA (Alabama), LLM (Singapore), MA (Kansas), PhD (Chicago)
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Ernest Caldwell
China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Associate Director of Teaching Quality (UG and PGT)

SOAS China Institute

Academic Staff, SOAS China Institute

Centre for Law in Asia


Centre for Human Rights Law

Member (CHRL)

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Member (CTS)

SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

Member (CSEAS)

Dr Ernest Caldwell
Email address:
+44 (0)207 898 4645
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
By Appointment (ec24)


Ernest Caldwell (康佩理) is a historian specialising in early and medieval Chinese law and manuscript culture. Ernest joined SOAS in 2012 as Lecturer in Chinese Law. In 2020, he transferred to the School of East Asian Languages and Cultures and currently serves as Senior Lecturer in Premodern Chinese Studies. Ernest obtained a BA in Asian History, an MA in Premodern Chinese Literature, and an LLM in Contemporary Asian Legal Studies. He completed his PhD at the University of Chicago after studying Chinese palaeography, excavated manuscript culture, and early Chinese legal history. His dissertation examining the linguistic features of legal statutes in early imperial Chinese excavated manuscripts formed the basis of his first book Writing Chinese Laws: The form and function of legal statutes found in the Qin Shuihudi corpus  (Routledge 2018).

Ernest is currently the Principal Investigator for a four year (2021-2025) AHRC funded project, titled “Han Phonology: When Chinese became Chinese”. This project will apply a variety of digital methods to rhymes found in received and excavated manuscripts dated to the Han dynasty (c. 202 BCE – 220 CE) in order to analyse sound changes occurring during the period between Old Chinese and Middle Chinese. The project is intended to produce a Handbook of Han Dynasty Chinese as well as two open access databases of Han period Chinese rhymes and Han period Chinese transliterations of Buddhist terminology.

In addition to his work on early China, Ernest has also published extensively on the modern legal histories of China and Taiwan. He is particularly interested in histories of constitutional change and in legislative aspects of transitional justice in Taiwan. In 2019, the Washington International Law Journal published a special issue of responses to Ernest’s 2018 article “Transitional Justice Legislation in Taiwan Before and During the Tsai Administration”. 

Ernest’s research has appeared in a variety of journals, including Early China, Chicago-Kent Law Review, Washington Journal of International Law, and Law and History Review, as well as several contributions to edited volumes. 

In EALC, Ernest teaches Classical Chinese as well as undergraduate and postgraduate modules on premodern China. He is happy to advise undergraduate, postgraduate, and research students on any aspect of Chinese and Taiwanese law and premodern Chinese history/literature/culture.



Chinese law (traditional and modern); Chinese palaeography; Chinese manuscript culture; Taiwanese law


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Regional Expertise
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Country Expertise
  • China
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Authored Books

Caldwell, Ernest (2018) Writing Chinese Laws: The Form and Function of Legal Statutes Found in the Qin Shuihudi Corpus. Abingdon: New York: Routledge.


Caldwell, Ernest (2019) 'Preface: Promoting Taiwan's Transitional Justice Experience'. Washington International Law Journal, (28) 3, pp 605-608.

Caldwell, Ernest (2018) 'Transitional Justice Legislation in Taiwan Before and During the Tsai Administration'. Washington International Law Journal, (27) 2, pp 449-484.

Caldwell, Ernest (2017) 'Widening the Constitutional Gap in China and Taiwan: History, Reform, and the Transformation of the Control Yuan'. University of Illinois Law Review, (2017) 2, pp 739-766.

Caldwell, Ernest (2014) 'Social Change and Written Law in Early Chinese Legal Thought'. Law and History Review, (32) 1, pp 1-30.

Caldwell, Ernest (2014) 'Promoting Action in Early Chinese Political Philosophy: A First Look at the Warring States Period Bamboo Manuscript Cao Mie’s Battle Arrays'. Early China, (37), pp 259-289.

Caldwell, Ernest and Chang, Xiangqun and Leoussi, Athena and Whimster, Sam (2014) 'Editorial on Max Weber and China: Culture, Law, and Capitalism'. Max Weber Studies, (14) 2, pp 137-145.

Caldwell, Ernest (2012) 'Horizontal Rights and Chinese Constitutionalism: Judicialization through Labor Disputes'. Chicago-Kent Law Review, (88) 1, pp 63-91.

Caldwell, Ernest and Nardin, Terry (2012) 'Introduction: Methodological Approaches to Asian Constitutionalism'. Chicago-Kent Law Review, (88) 1, pp 3-10.

Edited Books or Journals

Caldwell, Ernest and Chang, Xiangqun and Leoussi, Athena and Whimster, Sam, (eds.), (2014) Max Weber and China: Culture, Law, and Capitalism, Part 1. Special Issue of Max Weber Studies 14.1. Berlin: Quotus Publishing.

Caldwell, Ernest and Chang, Xiangqun and Leoussi, Athena and Whimster, Sam, (eds.), (2014) Max Weber and China: Culture, Law, and Capitalism, Part 2. Special Issue of Max Weber Studies 14.2. Berlin: Quotus Publishing.

Caldwell, Ernest and Nardin, Terry, (eds.), (2012) Methodological Approaches to Asian Constitutionalism. Symposium Issue of the Chicago-Kent Law Review. Chicago: Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology.

Book Chapters

Caldwell, Ernest (2019) 'The Control Yuan and Human Rights in Taiwan: Towards the Development of a National Human Rights Institution?'. In: Alford, William and Cohen, Jerome and Lo, Chang-fa, (eds.), Taiwan and International Human Rights: A Story of Transformation. Singapore: Springer, pp 155-172.

Caldwell, Ernest (2017) 'Chinese Constitutionalism: Five-Power Constitution'. In: Grote, Rainer and Lachenmann, Frauke and Wolfrum, Rüdiger, (eds.), Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Caldwell, Ernest (2015) 'Opportune Moments in Early Chinese Strategic Thought: The Concept of ji 機 in the Warring States Period Bamboo Manuscript Cao Mie’s Battle Arrays'. In: Lorge, Peter and Roy, Kaushik, (eds.), Chinese and Indian Warfare: The Classical Age to 1870. London: Routledge, pp 17-31.

Book Reviews

Caldwell, Ernest (2020) 'Review of Shang Yang, The Book of Lord Shang: Apologetics of State Power in Early China Edited and translated by Yuri Pines. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.'. Journal of Chinese History, (4) 1, pp 223-225.

Caldwell, Ernest (2014) 'Review of Mike MacConville and Eva Pils eds., 'Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China''. China Quarterly, (216), pp 1078-1080.

Caldwell, Ernest (2011) 'Review of Wong Yun-Bor. Autonomy and Protection of Fundamental Rights in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region'. Asian Journal of International Law, (1) 2, pp 423-424.


Caldwell, Ernest (2015) 'Visualising Constitutionalism in China (Online)' Law and Development: Thinking Into / About Practice. University of Kent Law School.


This list was last generated on Saturday, 1st October 2022, 21:39 Europe/London.