Rachel Stern is an Assistant Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Stern’s research explores the relationship between law, power, social change, and globalization, particularly in Mainland China and Hong Kong. Her recent work focuses on the role courts play in authoritarian states as well as the political dynamics surrounding environmental regulation and activism in China.

Her first book, Environmental Litigation in China: A Study in Political Ambivalence, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. In a country known for tight political control and ineffectual courts, the book unravels how everyday justice works: how judges make decisions, why lawyers take cases, and how international influence matters. It is an account of how the leadership’s mixed signals and political ambivalence play out on the ground, propelling some to action, even as others back away from risk. The book received an Honorable Mention for the 2014 Herbert Jacob book award from the Law & Society Association.

Stern’s recent articles on law and social activism have appeared in Comparative Political Studies, Law & Policy, and China Quarterly. Before joining Berkeley Law and the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, Stern was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard University Society of Fellows.

Last Updated: November 29, 2016

Sinica Podcast


The Intersection of Chinese Law and Politics

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
China’s legal system is much derided and poorly understood, but its development has, in many ways, been one of the defining features of the reform and opening-up era. Rachel Stern, a professor of law and political science at the University of...