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Center for Law, Society, and Culture

Postdoctoral Fellows for 2015-2016

Macabe Keliher

Macabe Keliher received his PhD in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University in 2015. His research examines the formation of administrative legal orders in premodern and modern China, with a particular emphasis on state-making and the role of culture. His work on ritual and law in Qing China highlights a sophisticated legal code used to standardize and regulate political and administrative operations, which illustrates characteristics of a rational bureaucracy in early modern China. His findings further contribute to the voice of Chinese jurists today pushing for greater administrative regulation in the PRC by illustrating that China does have a history and culture of administrative law. ​

As a Jerome Hall Fellow, Dr. Keliher will pursue projects on the political culture and law of Qing and contemporary China. His book project, “Ritual, Politics, and Law in the Making of Qing China, 1631-1690," offers new perspective on Chinese legal history by investigating a fundamental question: how did the Manchus develop a cohesive administrative order of diverse political actors in the conquest and rule of one of the largest land-based empires in history, the Qing dynasty? Drawing on Chinese and Manchu archives, it will demonstrate that in the 17th century a system of state ceremony and political rites forged a hierarchical organization by determining positions, relations, and practices of political actors, which was then codified as administrative law, giving legal form to the emergent order. He has articles forthcoming on Qing law, and on China’s current anticorruption drive. His academic research has been recognized by the Fulbright Program, the American Historical Association, and the Association for Asian Studies, among others.

Julia Tomassetti

Julia Tomassetti received her Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA, where she worked with Distinguished Professor Maurice Zeitlin, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She was previously a Research Fellow at the Georgetown Law Center and an Interdisciplinary Legal Studies Fellow at the Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy, SUNY Buffalo Law School. Beginning in fall 2016, she will be an Assistant Professor of Law at the City University of Hong Kong. Dr. Tomassetti’s research centers on work law, contracts, labor organizing, and the political economy of contemporary capitalism. At present, she studies legal and political disputes over the identity of contemporary work relationships. For example, is an Uber driver an employee or an independent contractor? She is particularly interested in the consequences of these disputes on the organization, transparency, and legitimacy of class relations today.

She will use her time as a Jerome Hall Fellow to complete a case study of the litigation over whether FedEx delivery drivers are employees or independent contractors. The project will illuminate how law and business organization have shaped one another over time, and at the same time forged a revised ideology of capitalist exploitation. FedEx has litigated the drivers’ employee status since the 1980s. The company responds to legal rulings by making changes in the drivers’ work or written contracts to mimic the decisions, and courts in turn reject or legitimate these changes as evidence of independent entrepreneurialism. This back-and-forth between FedEx and the courts has pre-figured debates about work in the “gig economy:” What does it mean to be an “entrepreneur” today? What is the difference, if any, between a firm and a market? Or is every arrangement for making goods or services a “network”? What happens to social boundaries between the public and private in the “sharing economy”? Does advanced logistics and communications technology empower every worker to become an entrepreneur? Or does it tend to deepen the precarity of flexible work? The project examines the transformation of work at the intersection of law, sociology, and political economy.