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Clarke Program AR 2012_Short

Clarke Lecture

Each year the Clarke Lecture brings a star scholar to Cornell to deliver a major public lecture. While at Cornell, the Clarke Lecturer also meets informally with faculty and students from across the university. More about the Clarke Lectures...

Clarke Lecture 2010-11

“Frank Upham was one of the first people to focus on the global dimensions of Japanese law. At the same time, he is also someone who has drawn our attention to aspects of Japanese society which are not always at the forefront of people's consciousness: minorities, victims of pollution, working classes, and finally, women.” Annelise Riles

“Resistible Force Meets Malleable Object: the Story of the “Introduction” of Norms of Gender Equality into Japanese Employment Practice”

 Frank Upham

Professor Frank Upham, Wilf Professor of Property Law, New York University School of Law


The 2010-11 Clarke Lecture was delivered by Frank Upham, Wilf Family Professor Of Property Law, New York University School of Law.

Professor Upham is an expert in both Chinese and Japanese law. His book Law and Social Change in Postwar Japan received the Thomas J. Wilson Prize from Harvard University Press in 1987. The book is generally viewed as the standard reference for discussions of Japanese law and its social and political role in contemporary Japan. More recently he has begun researching and writing about Chinese law and society and about the role of law in social and political development more generally.

In his Clarke Lecture, Professor Upham looked back at the history of the treatment of Japanese women in the workplace, starting from the first legal challenges to gender discrimination in the late 1960s. Professor Upham asked why attitudes and laws regarding gender equality in employment have dramatically changed over the last fifty years and yet women today seem to be worse off than they were before. This paradox raised broader questions that Professor Upham addressed in his lecture: How does interaction with international norms affect domestic practice? And For how long can Japan continue to have a system in which the country deprives itself from half of its talent and labor force? Professor Upham pointed to cultural and legal explanations but ultimately argued that the employment system which requires a gendered division of labor and household is mainly sustained by a specifically Japanese social structure that prevents genuine practical change.

  • Lecture Commentator: Stewart J. Schwab, Allan R. Tessler Dean & Professor of Law, Cornell Law School

“Japan has gone from a society that felt that strict division in roles by gender was desirable to a society in which legal doctrine outlaws discrimination in the workplace, and yet, women are worse off than they were before. This is because the Japanese social structure prevents real change in practice.” Professor Frank Upham, Wilf Professor of Property Law, New York University School of Law

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Clarke Lecture 2011-12

“Professor Zhu is one of the most original legal scholars I know. His scholarship is informed, innovative, and courageous. He has a true love of ideas, as well as an unsurpassed knowledge of Chinese legal problems and institutions. His energy, seriousness of purpose and scholarly integrity are inspiring.” Annelise Riles

“The Unnoticed Diverse Functions of Bridewealth in Traditional China”

 Zhu Suli

Professor Zhu Suli, Professor of Law, Peking University School of Law


The 2011-12 Clarke Lecture was delivered by Zhu Suli, Former Dean and Professor of Law, Peking University School of Law, and 2011-12 Wang Distinguished Visiting Professor, Cornell Law School.

One of China’s foremost legal scholars today, Zhu Suli focuses his research on law and society, judicial process in China, and law and literature. He has translated the work of Benjamin Cardozo, Richard Posner, and Robert Ellickson into Chinese. Professor Zhu served as Dean of Peking University Law School from 2001 to 2010. He has also been a visiting scholar of Harvard-Yenching Institute and Yale Law School. Professor Zhu was our 2011-12 Wang Distinguished Professor.

 Zhu Schwab Riles Clarke

Professors Zhu Suli, Stewart Schwab and Annelise Riles converse with Jack G. Clarke ’52, before Prof. Zhu’s Clarke Lecture.

In his Clarke Lecture, Professor Zhu presented the findings of his research on bridewealth, or "caili," gifts of money and/or goods given by the family of a prospective groom to the bride or to her family. Though caili in traditional Chinese villages has previously been viewed simply as a payment for the transfer of labor or a compensation to the bride's family for the investment of her upbringing, Professor Zhu’s research challenged that conception and found instead a complexity, which is not only interesting as an academic issue, but may be useful, he argued, to revise the law concerned. Professor Zhu demonstrated how a routine and mundane social practice impacts family structure, larger social organization, wealth distribution within the local economy, and cultural norms and expectations.

  • Lecture Commentator: Stewart J. Schwab, Allan R. Tessler Dean & Professor of Law, Cornell Law School

“My research does not intend to make a judgment of a social practice such as [bridewealth], but to understand its functions, and more importantly, the issues with which it deals. In doing so, it is best not to pay too much attention to theory, but to select which theory is most adapted to the data at hand.” Professor Zhu Suli, Professor of Law, Peking University School of Law, and 2011-12 Wang Distinguished Visiting Professor, Cornell Law School