Ke Li

Ke Li

Assistant Professor
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Room number and address: 
NB 09.63.12


  • Ph.D. in Sociology and Criminal Justice, Indiana University, Bloomington

  • M.A. in Criminal Justice, Indiana University, Bloomington

  • B.A. in Law, Nanjing University, China


My research, broadly speaking, focuses on law and society, power and inequality, gender relationships and politics in non-democratic contexts. In the past decade, I have mainly studied divorce litigation among an increasingly mobile population in Chinese society. This study has led to several publications, including a book, Marriage Unbound: State Law, Power, and Inequality in Contemporary China (Stanford University Press 2022). 

Drawing on extensive archival and ethnographic data, paired with unprecedented access to rural Chinese courtrooms, Marriage Unbound shows how women’s legal mobilization and rights contention can forge new ground for our understanding of law and politics, culture and the state, and power and inequality in an authoritarian context. In 2023, this book received several awards--from the Law and Society Association, the American Political Science Association, the American Sociological Association, and the Asian Law and Society Association.

In recent years, I have branched out into new research areas. In one project, I team up with colleagues in China to explore LGBTQ+ activism and impact litigation. More specifically, we examine how Chinese experts, such as academics and lawyers, facilitate sexual minorities and their NGO allies to build legal actions--to contest not only individual rights but public knowledge of homosexuality, mental health, and equal employment opportunity. In another project, I deepen my inquiries into dispute resolution, legal mobilization, and knowledge production–through the lens of doctor-patient disputes in China. By conducting these two new lines of inquiries, I hope to shed light on the complex interplay of state laws, social inequalities, and knowledge production in a transitional society.

Course Taught

  • LWS 200 Introduction to Law and Society
  • LWS 225 Introduction to Research Methods in Law and Society 
  • LWS 385 Legal Disruption Project
  • LWS 425 Colloquium for Research in Law and Society

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