Johanna Ransmeier
Johanna Sirera Ransmeier On Research Leave: 2023-2024 Office: Social Science Research Building, room 219 Mailbox 74 Phone: (773) 834-2014 Email Interests:

Modern China; Chinese legal history; crime; history of the family; comparative unfreedoms

Associate Professor of History and the College

Yale University, PhD '08


Johanna S. Ransmeier 任思梅 is a social and legal historian of modern China. Her current research investigates the expansion of legal literacy and the development of a Chinese legal imagination during times of revolutionary change. In this project, she asks what happens when citizens’ legitimate expectations of the law get ahead of the ability of legal institutions to deliver on the promise of new legislation or legal innovations? What makes the law a site of both soaring aspiration and crushing disappointment? She also studies the surprising ways crime and the law intersect with family life in China. Her first book Sold People: Traffickers and Family Life in North China (Harvard University Press, 2017) exposed the transactional foundations of traditional family structures and the role of human trafficking in late Qing and Republican China.  She is a fellow with the National Committee on US China Relations Public Intellectuals Program (Cohort V) and was a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Modern History at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. Before joining the University of Chicago, she was a member of the department of History and Classical Studies at McGill University. She currently serves as co-chair of the faculty board of the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights.

Recent Research / Recent Publications