Johanna Ransmeier is Associate Professor of History and the College.
Her research explores the relationship between family life and the law in modern China, often through the lens of crime. She is currently working on a book on the trafficking of people in North China during the late Qing and Republican period, which explores how both poverty and traditional Chinese family structure itself enabled a highly flexible market for everyone from slaves, servants, wives, concubines, wet nurses, prostitutes, private drivers, funeral musicians, and apprentice street performers.
Ransmeier’s next project will introduce the concept of legal literacy in the early twentieth century. In this new area of research, 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. Between college and graduate school, she worked in the field of human rights advocacy, serving as an interpreter and assistant to Chinese activists. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, she taught in the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill University.