Dr Lily Chang


Lily Chang is a historian of late imperial and twentieth century China, specialising on the intersections between law and society in comparative and global perspectives. Drawing upon previously unexamined Chinese archival legal case records, her research offers an analysis of the historical development of the legal treatment of the young in wartime China (1937-1945). Through an examination of the practice of judicial discretion towards juvenile offenders, her work explores how the social impact of wartime conditions served as a crucial catalyst to providing a distinct liminal space for the construction of new legal and social conceptions of childhood in the first half of twentieth-century China.

Her new research examines the transmission of ideas concerning conflict and humanitarianism posited by the Dutch legal scholar Bert Röling, and locates these ideas within local understandings of law in East Asia during the interwar years. She further considers how the interdependent formation of notions of justice in East Asia and Europe may have had broader implications for the development of international law in the postwar period.

She is particularly interested in Sino-Japanese relations, China’s broader engagement with East and Southeast Asia, the history of warfare, the history of childhood, the circulation of legal thought between Asia and Europe, and the development of ideas pertaining to penology, law, and humanitarianism in the twentieth century.

From 2011-2014, she served as the Henry Lumley Research Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge where she remains as a Research Associate with the Centre for History and Economics, Cambridge.

Qualifications & memberships of professional bodies

2012 DPhil  University of Oxford 
2009  MSt  University of Oxford 
2006  AM  Harvard University

Courses taught

HIST2419 War, Rebellion and Social Discontent in Modern China
HIST2900 From Dynasty to Republic: Women and Social Change in Modern China
HIST3420/9420 Untold Stories: Constructing Lives, Narratives, and Experiences in Wartime East Asia
HISTGM01 Advanced Skills, Concepts and Theory for MA Historians

IRIS Researcher Profile 

Dr Lily Chang