2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Local Governance and Land Litigation:
A Social Historical Analysis of Land Lawsuits {Lawsuits or the Lawsuit??} of “Jin-Shon-Mion Ai” (金山面墾隘)  in Taiwan’s Zhuqian {Zhu-Chian??} Region during the Qing

Wen-kai Lin

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica

The analysis of the legal culture concerning land in Taiwan during the Qing has seen two main approaches. First, the research of such scholars as  Okamatsu Santarō 岡松參太郎 and Dai Ian-huei 戴炎輝 analyzed the legal nature of “Da-xiao-zu-ie” {Daxiao zuye??} (大小租業) using the law-centered method. Moreover, Dai Ian-huei interpreted the land case of the “Jin-Shon-Mion Ai” (金山面墾隘), documented in Dan-Xian {Danxin???} Archives, merely according to the case records. These analyses paid little attention to the economic and political contexts; in addition, they only focused on the subjective representation of social practice and ignored the objective effects of social practice. In contrast, the second kind of studies, including significant work on Taiwan’s Plains Aborigine land tenure in the Qing by Shi Tianfu (施添福), John Shepherd (卲式柏) and {either Ke Chih-ming or Ke Zhiming}柯志明, analyzed the legal culture of land in terms of multiple interactions between the Qing state and local society. Also, they illuminated the relationships among legal culture, political practice and economic activities in Dan-Xian {?} region. Drawing on this researche, I propose a different analytical framework for the study of land legal culture—a study of the social history of law in Qing Taiwan.

I reinterpret the Jin-Shon-Mion Ai land case {case or cases??} in terms of this new analytic framework. First, I discuss the reclaiming process in this region in view of various political and economic interactions between the Qing state and the Zhuqian {Zhu-Chian??} region. Going beyond the limited subjective representations available from case records, I explain the institutional causes of these land disputes by investigating the social context of these cases from other historical materials. Second, I also examine the logic of legal decisions of magistrate’s hearings in terms of the concept of “local governance,” developed from John Shepherd’s and Ke Zhiming’s “Qing statecraft” analysis. I see the Qing’s local governance as the product of magistrates’ assessments of social order, administrative costs, and tax-corvée stability (or potential) in local society. My argument is that instead of dealing with the legal case in view of Shiga Shuzo{ō??}’s “qingli” (情理), Philip C. C. Huang’s “lüli” (律例), or Terada Hiroaki’s “yuani/shenyuan”(冤抑/申冤), a magistrate resolved legal cases in view of their impact on local governance.


Keywords: legal culture, Dan-Xin Archives, social history of law, local governance, social order of land contracts