Ke Li

Ke Li

Assistant Professor
Phone number: 


  • 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 focuses on law and society in contemporary China. Over the past decade, I have studied how the official justice system in rural China responds to the rise of divorce among an increasingly mobile population. This inquiry has led to journal articles published in Law & Policy, Law & Society Review, and China Law and Society Review.

Recently, I published a book, Marriage Unbound: State Law, Power, and Inequality in Contemporary China (Stanford University Press). In this book, I follow a group of Chinese women seeking judicial remedies for conjugal grievances and disputes. Using data from multiple sources—participant observations, in-depth interviews, judicial statistics, internal documents, and news articles—Marriage Unbound presents a meticulous examination of how these women wrestle with government officials and village leaders on the front line of dispute management; how they interact with legal professionals serving clients from the countryside; how they struggle to convey marital grievances and rights claims to judges at the grassroots level; and, in the end, how the local government, the legal profession, and the court system far too often fail to protect women’s rights and interests. Ultimately, Marriage Unbound illustrates 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.

Since summer 2018, I have been building a database of news reports on violence against medical professionals in China, as part of a larger research project on patient-doctor disputes in a transitional society. Using China National Knowledge Infrastructure, I have collected a sample of 2,700 news articles, published in the past two decades. Analyzing how journalists cover violence against doctors, I hope to expand my research on dispute resolution, contentious politics, and popular resistance in a continuously evolving authoritarian state.

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

Download C.V.