Prof. Ryan MITCHELL 穆秋瑞教授
Assistant Professor 助理教授
Tel (852) 3943 4425
Fax (852) 2994 2505

Room 532,
Faculty of Law,
5/F, Lee Shau Kee Building,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Sha Tin, NT, Hong Kong SAR

Ryan Mitchell's research focuses on international law, legal history and theory, law's relationship with the humanities, and Chinese law. His scholarship has appeared in leading academic journals including the Harvard International Law Journal, the Harvard Human Rights Journal, the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, and the Asian Journal of Law and Society, and his commentary on legal, political, and cultural topics has been published in numerous other venues. His current research adopts an interdisciplinary approach to the concept of Westphalian sovereignty, exploring both its intellectual historical origins and its competing theorizations in various contemporary legal doctrines and political ideologies.

Professor Mitchell holds a B.A. from the New School, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a Ph.D. in Law from Yale University, where he was also a Mellon Foundation Humanities Fellow. While pursuing his doctoral studies at Yale, Professor Mitchell taught courses on the history and theory of international law and received a Qualification in the Study of the Ancient and Premodern World. His dissertation, Realism in China's Reception and Contention of the Law of Nations, was passed with distinction, and he is currently revising it as a book manuscript. In his work, he takes a particular interest in exploring the diversity of legal thought reflected in various cultures and intellectual traditions. His practice experience includes Alien Tort Statute litigation in U.S. federal courts, work on immigration and asylum issues, and reports submitted to international human rights bodies. Originally from Los Angeles, he is a member of the State Bar of California.

  • PhD (Yale)
  • JD (Harvard)
  • BA (New School)
  • Admitted to Practice in California
  • Public international law
  • Chinese law
  • Legal history and theory
  • Human rights
  • Law and humanities

Academic Publications

  • “Book Review: Is International Law International?,” 81 Modern Law Review 3 (2018)
  • “Sovereignty and Normative Conflict: Reframing International Legal Realism as a Theory of Uncertainty,” 58 Harvard International Law Journal 2 (2018)
  •  “Manchukuo's Contested Sovereignty: Legal Activism, Rights Consciousness, and Civil Resistance in a ‘Puppet State,’” 3 Asian Journal of Law and Society 2 (2016)
  • “An International Commission of Inquiry for the South China Sea?: Defining the Law of Sovereignty to Determine the Chance for Peace,” 49 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 749 (2016)
  • “Redefining Pragmatic Engagement: The ‘New Model’ of U.S.-China Relations and the Opportunity of Shared Consequences,” 23 International Affairs Review 3 (2015)
  • “Surveillance State 2.0: Beta-Tested in China, Coming Soon to...?,” Yale Journal of Law & Technology Online (2013) (with Can Sun)
  • “Book Review: Bloody Harvest,” 24 Harvard Human Rights Journal 246 (2011)

Academic Blogs and Popular Publications

  • “The Realist Case for a Korean Peace Treaty,” The National Interest, August 8, 2018
  • “Was the UN Human Rights Council Wrong to Back China’s ‘Shared Future’ Resolution?,” EJIL: Talk!, April 10, 2018
  • “China’s Crown Theorist,” Foreign Affairs, December 4, 2017
  • “Why Taiwan and China Agree on South China Sea Sovereignty,” The Diplomat, March 29, 2016
  • “Lessons from the Xi Jinping Book Club,” Los Angeles Review of Books, January 16, 2016
  • Book Review: The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, The Marx & Philosophy Review of Books, November 2015
  • “Is There a China Model?”, ChinaFile Conversation, October 19, 2015
  • “Clearing Up Some Misconceptions About Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’”, The Huffington Post, August 20, 2015
  • “Should the U.S. Extradite Chinese Wanted by Beijing?”, ChinaFile Conversation, August 5, 2015
  • Grant for Participation in University of Exeter / Leverhulme Trust Funded Project Conference on "1989 after 1989," Humboldt University of Berlin
  • Award for "Best Research in Progress on East Asian Law and Society," American Association of Law Schools, Section on East Asian Law and Society
  • Grant for Participation in National University of Singapore Asia Research Institute Conference "Singapore Studies from the Outside"
  • Grant for Participation in Academy of Finland Funded Project Conference on "Imagining Post-Neoliberal Regulatory Subjectivities"
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Fellowship
  • Grant for Research at Human Rights Law Foundation, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice
  • Harvard Law School Kaufman Public Interest Fellowship
  • Cravath International Fellowship


SELECTED Conference presentations
  • “The Exemplary ‘Other’ in the Origins of International Law and Sovereign Power.” (July, 2018). Paper presented at the conference on Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), National University of Singapore.
  • “De-Universalized Hegemony in Carl Schmitt’s Großraumlehre: The Power to Characterize Spaces and Determine Norms,” (June, 2018). Paper presented at the conference on Hegemony in the International Order, University of Rome, Tor Vergata and the European Society of International Law (ESIL).
  • “Concrete Order Thinking for the Socialist Rechtsstaat: The Role of German Juristic Thought in China’s ‘New Era’ Constitutionalism,” (May, 2018).  Paper presented at the conference on Germany and the World, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
  • “International Criminal Law Categories in China,” (November, 2016). Paper presented at the conference on State Socialism, Legal Experts and the Genesis of International Criminal and Humanitarian Law after 1945, Humboldt University of Berlin.
  • “Sovereignty and Uncertainty in Han Fei, Hobbes, and Schmitt,” (May, 2016). Paper presented at the East-West Philosopher’s Conference, University of Hawaii.
  • “Legal Activism and Rights Consciousness in a ‘Puppet State’: Law in Manchukuo’s Civil Resistance, 1931-1945,” (January, 2016). Paper presented at the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) “Research in Progress on East Asian Law & Society” 2016 Session, New York.
  • “Post-Secular Experimentation in the Chinese Party-State: Political Theology, Popular Religious Culture, and the Resumed Struggle for ‘Law,’” (November, 2015). Paper presented at the conference on Law, Religion, and Politics: Challenges to Traditional Borders in Global and Comparative Perspectives, Yale University. 
  • “Singapore’s Constitutional Modernism: Space, Community, and Practice,” (October, 2015). Paper presented at the Singapore Studies from the Outside Conference, National University of Singapore.
  • “The Precarious Branch: Popular Prerogative and Pragmatic Cooperation in Executive ‘Taking Care,’” (October, 2015). Paper presented at the LatCrit 20th Anniversary Conference, Orange County, California. 
  • “Redefining Pragmatic Engagement: The ‘New Model’ of U.S.-China Relations and the Opportunity of Shared Consequences,” (May, 2015). Paper presented at the International Affairs Review U.S.-China Policy Conference, George Washington University.