Kristin M. Sangren


Dr. Kristin M. Sangren is a Lecturer in Legal Studies, where she teaches Sociology of Law and Punishment, Culture, and Society. She received her Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from UC Berkeley in 2020. Her research focuses on law, culture, and subjectivity in China.

She is currently working on a book manuscript, entitled Strangers and Intimates: How law inflects culture in contemporary China, which is among the first ethnographic examinations of legal consciousness in contemporary China. The analysis incorporates a grassroots-level vantage of law in three exemplary scenarios of everyday Chinese life—traffic accidents, divorce, and filial responsibility. Based on 17 months of field research conducted in Chengdu, it employs multi-sited ethnography, court judgments, and media reporting to show how the Chinese state’s embrace of law and legal ideologies manifests in, resonates with, and departs from people’s basic assumptions, desires, and fantasies about, for example, how to treat strangers, the purpose of marriage, and the obligations that children owe their parents. By adopting an approach to law that treats it as a cultural form that shapes identities and subjectivities, her research shows how the increasing import of legal discourse in Chinese politics has been productive of meaning, morality, and possibilities for ordinary Chinese people. The manuscript’s conclusion that law interacts intimately with people’s sense of self and sociality invites viewing law’s role in other societies in similar terms. This research has been supported by the Fulbright-Hays DDRA, CCSP Joint Dissertation Fellowship, the Institute for East Asian Studies, and Berkeley Law.

Kristin received a B.A. in Government (concentration in Political Theory) from Cornell University in 2008. Prior to matriculating at Berkeley, she worked in 2008-2012 as a paralegal at Leonard Carder, LLP (San Francisco/Oakland).


Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (2020)