Professor of History; Affiliate Professor of Law; Dean, Graduate School of Arts & Science
Johns Hopkins University, PhD 1987
6 Washington Square North, 1st Floor
Field of Study:
Areas of Research/Interest:
Atlantic world, legal history, comparative history of empires.
Lauren Benton researches and writes about the comparative history of empires, with special emphasis on the history of law. Her publications include works on imperial sovereignty, legal pluralism in empires, maritime law, and the history of international law. Benton’s main region of focus is the Atlantic world, but she also studies the global reach of European empires and has examined case studies from South Asia, Latin America, Africa, North America, and Australia. Benton is currently working on a history of imperial law and international order in the early nineteenth century, and she is developing a new project on imperial violence and the international law of war. At NYU, Benton teaches courses on the comparative history of empires, law in empires, world history, and Atlantic history.
Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1900, Lauren Benton and Richard Ross, eds. New York University Press (forthcoming).
A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900. Cambridge University Press (2010).
Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900. Cambridge University Press (2002). Winner of the 2003 World History Association Book Award; and the 2003 James Willard Hurst Prize.
Invisible Factories: The Informal Economy and Industrial Development in Spain. Albany: State University of New York Press (1990).
The Informal Economy: Studies in Advanced and Less Developed Countries, eds., Alejandro Portes, Manuel Castells, and Lauren Benton. Johns Hopkins University Press (1989).
Selected Articles and Chapters:“This Melancholy Labyrinth: The Trial of Arthur Hodge and the Boundaries of Imperial Law,” Alabama Law Review (2012): 100-1222.
“Historical Perspectives on Legal Pluralism,” in Caroline Sage, Michael Woolcock, and Brian Tamanaha, eds., Legal Pluralism and Development: Scholars and Practitioners in Dialogue (Cambridge University Press, 2012), 34-49.
“Abolition and Imperial Law, 1780-1820,” Journal of Commonwealth and Imperial History, Vol. 39:3, (2011): 355-374.
“Possessing Empire: Iberian Claims and Interpolity Law,” in Saliha Bellmessous, ed., Indigenous versus European Land Claims, 1500-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2011), 19-40.
“Atlantic Law,” in Philip Morgan and Nicholas Canny, eds., Oxford Handbook on the Atlantic World, c 1450-1820 (Oxford University Press, 2011), 400-416.
“Toward a New Legal History of Piracy: Maritime Legalities and the Myth of Universal Jurisdiction,” International Journal of Maritime History XXIII, No. 1 (2011): 1-15.
Lauren Benton and Benjamin Straumann, “Acquiring Empire by Law: From Roman Doctrine to Early Modern European Practice,” Law and History Review 28:1 (2010): 1-38.
“Legal Problems of Empire in Gentili’s Hispanica Advocatio,” in Benedict Kingsbury and Benjamin Straumann, eds., The Roman Foundations of the Law of Nations (Oxford University Press, 2010), 269-282.
“The British Atlantic in Global Context,” David Armitage and Michael Braddick, eds, The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800, second edition. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)
“From International Law to Imperial Constitutions: The Problem of Quasi-Sovereignty, 1870-1900,” Law and History Review 26:3 (2008): 595-620.
“Legal Spaces of Empire: Piracy and the Origins of Ocean Regionalism,” in Comparative Studies in Society and History, October Vol. 47:4 (2005): 700-724.
"The Laws of this Country’: Foreigners and the Legal Construction of Sovereignty in Uruguay, 1830-1875," Law and History Review 19, 3 (2001): 479-512.
"Making Order Out of Trouble: Jurisdictional Politics in the Spanish Colonial Borderlands," Law and Social Inquiry. 26, 2 (2001): 373-401.
"Colonial Law and Cultural Difference: Jurisdictional Politics and the Formation of the Colonial State." Comparative Studies in Society and History. 41, 3 (2000): 563-588.
"The Legal Regime of the South Atlantic World: Jurisdictional Politics as Institutional Order." Journal of World History Vol. 11, 1 (2000): 27-56.