Undergraduate Deputy Admissions Tutor
Chair, Centre of East Asian Law (CEAL)
Academic Staff, SOAS China Institute
Academic Staff, Centre of South East Asian Studies
- Dr Ernest Caldwell
- Email address:
- +44 (0)207 898 4645
- Senate House
- Office No:
- Office Hours:
- Thursday 13:00 - 15:00
Ernest Caldwell joined the SOAS law faculty in 2012. He has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in legal history, Sinology, Chinese literature, and Asian legal systems. Ernest specialises in the study of Chinese and Taiwanese law, with particular research interests in constitutional law, environmental law, transitional justice, and indigenous rights. He also maintains broader research and teaching interests in public law in Southeast Asia.
Ernest is currently working on two long-term research projects related to public law in contemporary China and Taiwan. The first project concerns law and indigenous rights in contemporary Taiwan. Beginning as early as the 15th century, the island’s Austronesian inhabitants suffered numerous colonial incursions by the Chinese, Dutch, and Spanish resulting in loss of lands and often violence. Later, they suffered similar abuses at the hands of the Japanese colonial government (1895-1945) and, after 1945, the Chinese Nationalist government. This project draws on the growing international discourse of indigenous human rights to examine the fraught nexus of transitional justice and indigenous rights in contemporary Taiwan.
The second project examines the Republic of China’s 1947 five-power constitution (五權憲法). The unique design of this constitution combines the standard Western tripartite branches of Executive, Legislative, and Judicial, with two additional branches drawn from China’s imperial past: the Control Yuan (監察院) and the Examination Yuan (考試院). This project endeavours to produce a comprehensive history of the Control Yuan from the perspective of constitutional design and constitutional change.
In addition to his work on modern law, Ernest continues to utilize his Sinological and esoteric paleographic postgraduate training to conduct research on the formation of various strands of legal thought in ancient China (c. 500-100 BCE). At present, Ernest is completing a book manuscript that examines the form and function of legal statutes in the Qin Shuihudi manuscript corpus which were excavated from the tomb of a lower ranking official in Yunmeng County, Hubei, China.
Ernest’s research on traditional and contemporary Chinese/Taiwanese legal and political thought has been published in edited volumes and several journals including the Law and History Review, Chicago-Kent Law Review, University of Illinois Law Review, Washington International Law Journal, Max Weber Studies, and Early China. His first book, Writing Chinese Laws: The Form and Function of Legal Statutes Found in the Qin Shuihudi Corpus, will be published in 2018 (Routledge Series in Asian Law). Ernest currently serves as an associate editor for the International Journal of Taiwan Studies (Brill), after previously serving as vice-president of the International Society for the Study of Chinese Legal History and the associate journal editor for Comparative Legal History.
At SOAS, Ernest offers an undergraduate survey of Chinese law covering the late imperial period to the present. He also offers postgraduate courses on Chinese constitutionalism, human rights in China, and human rights in Taiwan. Ernest frequently provides guest lectures on postcolonial constitutionalism in Southeast Asia, environmental law and human rights in Southeast Asia, and comparative methodology. He is happy to advise MA/LLM dissertations, as well as PhD projects on any topics related to these fields.