Dr Matthew S Erie

BA Dartmouth College, MA, PhD Cornell University, JD University of Pennsylvania, LLM Tsinghua University
Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Studies


Oriental Institute Website and Personal Website

Matthew is a comparativist lawyer and a cultural anthropologist whose research engages multiple disciplines to examine the ways in which the ethnographic study of Chinese law may open up new ways to perceive the meanings and operation of illiberal law, more generally.

Matthew has gained experience in China since 2004 as a law student, an NGO volunteer, a corporate lawyer, and an ethnographer.  He spent two years living with Muslim communities in northwest China, fieldwork that formed the basis of his book, China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016), the first ethnographic study of the contemporary practice of Islamic law among Chinese Muslims (Hui). He is currently working on a second project that follows cross-border corporate lawyers, judges, and investors to examine the potential for Chinese legal knowledge to "travel" beyond China and influence developing economies outside of China, in South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. He has been awarded a research grant from the John Fell Fund (Oxford University Press Research Fund) to start this project. He has previously published in such journals as American Ethnologist, Law and Social Inquiry, Hong Kong Law Journal, China Information, and the Journal of Legal Education.

Matthew was formerly a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies of Princeton University, a Global Assistant Professor of Law at New York University (NYU) School of Law, and a Visiting Scholar at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU. He has won awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, Henry Luce Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, and the National Science Foundation. He has taught courses on Chinese law and society, Muslim minorities, and China anthropology in the UK, the US, and China. He participates in a number of organizations and institutes that contribute critical thinking on wider public policy issues, including the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School, the Truman National Security Project, and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.