Bettine Birge

Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures and History
Bettine Birge
Email Office THH 356R Office Phone (213) 740-6660

Research & Practice Areas

premodern Chinese history, gender, law, ethnicity, Inner Asia


  • M.A. History, Cambridge University
  • Ph.D. Chinese History, Columbia University
  • B.A. East Asian Studies, Princeton University
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Professor Birge researches law and gender in China and Inner Asia, focusing on the Song and Yuan periods (10th to 14th centuries). Her interests include women and Confucianism, property rights, comparative systems of marriage, and issues of gender, ethnicity, and status in traditional law. Professor Birge is currently working on a book that examines instabilities and contention over issues of gender, status, and identity in multi-ethnic Yuan society.

    Research Keywords

    premodern Chinese history, gender, law, ethnicity, Inner Asia

    Research Specialties

    premodern Chinese history, gender, law, ethnicity, Inner Asia

  • Book

    • Birge, B. (2017). Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: Cases from the Yuan dianzhang. Harvard University Press.
    • Birge, B. (2002). Women, Property, and Confucian Reaction in Sung and Yüan China, 960-1368. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book Chapters

    • Birge, B. (2017). “How the Mongols Mattered: A Perspective from Law.”. How Mongolia Matters: War, Law, and Society pp. 87-104. Leiden: Brill.
    • Birge, B. (2012). “Yuandai de shouji hun yü zhenjie guan de fuxing.” In Xifang zhongguo funüshi yanjiu lunwenji (Western Studies on Chinese Women’s History). Shanghai: Shanghai Guji chuban she.
    • Birge, B. (2010). Sources of Law in Mongol-Yuan China (1260-1368): Adjudication in the absence of a legal code, In Festschrift in Honour of Francoise Aubin. Miscellanea Asiatica pp. 387-406. Sankt Augustin: Monumenta Serica.
    • Birge, B. (2010). Meiguo de Yuandai yanjiu: lishi gaikuang, zhuyao gongxian, yiji dangqian de qushi (Yuan Studies in North America: Historical Overview, Contributions, and Current Trends). Chinese Studies in North America pp. 145-170. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.
    • Birge, B. (2008). Law of the Liao, Chin, and Yuan and its Impact on the Chinese Legal Tradition, in New Perspectives on Chinese History, Legal History: The Formation and Transformation of Traditional Chinese Legal Culture. pp. 443-503. Taipei, Taiwan: Academia Sinica.
    • Birge, B. (2008). “Liao-Jin-Yuan falü ji qi dui zhongguo falü chuantong de yingxiang.” In Zhongguoshi Xinlun: Falüshi. pp. 141-191. Taipei, Taiwan: Zhong Yanyuan, Jinglian.
    • Birge, B. (2003). Women and Confucianism from Song to Ming: The Institutionalization of Patrilineality, in The Song-Yuan-Ming Transition in Chinese History. pp. 212-240. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
    • Birge, B. (2003). Inheritance and Property Law from Tang to Song: The Move away from Patrilineality. pp. 849-866. Shanghai: Peking Univ. Tang Studies Series, Cishu chubanshe.
    • Birge, B. (1989). Chu Hsi and Women’s Education, in Neo-Confucian Education: The Formative Stage. pp. 325-367. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    Book Review

    • Birge, B. (2010). Review of Peter K. Bol, Neo-Confucianism in History (Harvard East Asian Monographs, number 307.). American Historical Review. pp. 822-823.
    • Birge, B. (2007). Review of “Marco Polo’s China: A Venetian in the Realm of Khubilai Khan. Journal of Asian Studies/Cambridge University Press. pp. 240-242.

    Encyclopedia Article

    • Birge, B. (2009). Chinese Law, History of: Yuan Dynasty (AD 1279 – 1368), in Encyclopedia of Legal History. (Stanley N. Katz, Geoffrey MacCormack, et al., Ed.). Vol. NA Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

    Journal Article

    • Birge, B. (2011). Mongol Khans and Legal Innovation in the Yuan Dynasty (1260-1368): The Use of Precedents as a Source of Law. Mongolica: AnInternational Annual of Mongol Studies. Vol. 25
    • Birge, B. (2009). Sexual Misconduct in Mongol-Yuan Law, with some Observations on Chinggis Khan’s Jasagh. Mongolica: An International Annual of Mongol Studies. Vol. 22 (43), pp. 287-297.
    • Birge, B. (2009). Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Nature of Local Sources and Understanding Regional History in Imperial China. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. Vol. 52 (1), pp. 4-13. full text, pdf version
    • Birge, B. (2007). Law and its Limits: Judicial Philosophy and Conflicting Verdicts in Song Dynasty Legal Cases. Chung-Hsing Journal of History. (18), pp. 185-192.
    • Birge, B. (1995). Levirate Marriage and the Revival of Widow Chastity in Yuan China. Asia Major. Vol. 8 (2), pp. 107-146.


    • Birge, B. (2007). Instabilities in Chinese Family and Marriage Law and the Significance of the Zhizhengtiaoge. In Academy of Korean Studies (Ed.), pp. 219-231. Seoul. Law and Society in the 13th-14th century East Asia-In Celebration of the Publication of the Zhizheng tiaoge.
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Recipient, NEH Fellowship for University Teachers, 2013-2014
    • Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Scholar Grant, 2011/07-2012/06
    • Mellon New Directions Fellowship, 2006/05-2011/10
    • USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, Grant funds to aid Research, 2006-2008
    • Presidential Medal from President of Mongolia for contribution to the understanding of Mongolian history, 2006/08
    • USC Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award, Prize for creativity in research, 2005
    • Fulbright Award, Research Fellowship to Beijing, China, 2003-2004
    • Residency at the Institute for Advanced Study, Granted one-year fellowhsip/residency at IAS (offer declined), 2003-2004
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Recipient, Fellowship for University Teachers, 1996-1997
  • Editorships and Editorial Boards

    • Western-language Editor, Bibliography of Chinese Legal History, 2006 –
    • English-language Editor, Journal of Chinese History (Chugoku shigaku), 2005 –
    • Member of Editorial Board, Journal of Sung-Yuan Studies, 2005 –

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

    • Faculty lecturer for Educational tour of Mongolia: Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Vassar Alumni, – 08/2008
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