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In collaboration with the Centre for History and Economics and the Cambridge Centre for Political Thought

This project brings together historians, political theorists and lawyers who are interested in the social, economic and political dimensions of law in the modern period. We focus on the ways in which law and legal institutions order and organize space and people. This encompasses both imperial and international law, and domestic public and private law in its manifold influences on the nature and form of relations across borders. We are interested in legal actors and institutions, both national and supranational; doctrines and concepts, like jurisdiction; and also diverse forms of legal border-crossing, including the migration of people, ideas and objects across time and place. Embracing new trends in legal and historical research, we pursue the exchange of legal ideas in formal and informal contexts, and the creation, appropriation and interpretation of law by non-traditional actors, and in unexpected places, is pursued.

In bringing together scholars from a wide range of disciplinary, methodological and geographic orientations, the project aims to strengthen and enrich the work being pursued in these disparate fields, but also test the limits of existing perspectives and lay the foundations for more fluid and productive interactions between them.

Legal Histories Beyond the State Lecture Series (LHBS)

In the interests of fostering interdisciplinary interactions which might not otherwise occur, the Global Legal Histories Project is inaugurating a regular work-in-progress (WIP) seminar for junior and early-career researchers.

Some sessions will be devoted to discussion of new, published work in the field, and others to the sharing of works-in-progress, whether draft articles, chapters or book prospectuses, with a core group of scholars from a variety of disciplines.

Over time, we hope to develop a community of scholars who engage in sustained dialogue about each other’s research and also about broader methodological or thematic questions that cut across the fields of global, international and imperial histories, and histories of political thought, with legal dimensions. We also encourage work which otherwise bears on law and ordering across borders. Many of us focus primarily in the 18th - 20th century, but earlier periods are also welcome.

If you are interested in receiving updates and term cards, please contact Prof Surabhi Ranganathan

The LHBS series was suspended for 2020-2021 but relaunched in Michaelmas 2021 in a revised format. 

Sessions for Academic Year 2021-2022

11 May 2022 - 17:00 hrs - 18:15 hrs - Dr Charlotte Johann, University of Cambridge: 'Law Made Immortal: Inheritance and Personhood in Modern German Legal Thought'

9 March 2022 - 17:00 hrs - 18:15 hrs - Prof Helen Tilley,   'Traditional Medicine Goes Global: 'Pan-African Precedents, Cultural Decolonization, and Cold War Rights/Properties' 

15 February 2022 - 17:00 hrs - 18:15 hrs - Prof Lauren Benton, Yale University ' Protection-Shopping among Empires: Suspended Sovereignty in the Cocos-Keeling Islands' (on paper with Adam Clulow)

24 November 2021 - Dr Daniel Allemann, University of Lucerne 'Slavery and empire in early modern Iberian thought'

Previous sessions

Law & Society in History Lecture: Mobilities, Scales, Methods 

13 February 2020 - 17:00 hrs - 18:15 hrs - Dr Grietje Baars, The City Law School, University of London - 'The corporation and law in the making of global capitalism'

30 January 2020 - 17:00 hrs - 18:15 hrs - Dr Rose Parfitt, Kent Law School, University of Kent - 'Thinking Inside the Box: 'Modular' Historiography, the Ethopian Empire and Other Subjects of International Law'

28 November 2019 - 17:00 hrs - 18:15 hrs - Dr Grietje Baars, The City Law School, University of London - 'The corporation and law in the making of global capitalism'

30 October 2019 - 17.00 hrs - 18.00 hrs - Professor Annabel Brett, University of Cambridge - Joint Event with Centre for History and Economics - 'Use, war, and commercial society. Changing paradigms of human relations with animals in the early modern law of nature and of nations'

25 April 2019 - 17:15 hrs - 18:00 hrs - Dr Mark Somos (Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law) - 'American States of Nature: The Origins of Independence'

21 March 2019 - 18:00 hrs - 19:15 hrs - Jesse Hohmann (QMUL) and Daniel Joyce (University of New South Wales) - 'International Objects: A Conversation'

23 January 2019 - 17:15 - 18:30 hrs - Juan Pablo Scarfi (Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina; Visiting Professor, Université Paris 3) 'The Rise of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, the OAS and Responses to the Cuban Revolution: Towards a Humanitarian and Geopolitical Genealogy of Human Rights in the Americas.'

17 October 2018, 17:15-18:30 hrs - Dr Sarah Nouwen (University Senior Lecturer in International Law) & Orfeas Chasapis-Tassinis (doctoral candidate, Lauterpacht Centre of International Law) - 'The consciousness of a duty done': British attitudes towards self-determination and the case of the Sudan'

14 November 2018, 17:15-18:30 hrs - Dr Emma Hunter (Senior Lecturer, African History, University of Edinburgh) - 'Debating the rise and fall of the first East African Community in East Africa’s public sphere, 1960s-1970s'

28 November 2018, 17:15-18:30 hrs - Professor Pat Capps (University of Bristol Law School) - 'Act of State'

9 May 2018, 5.15pm - 6.30pm - Dr León Castellanos Jankiewicz, 'Nationality, Alienage and Early International Rights'

16 May 2018, 5.30pm - 6.30 pm - Dr Emma Mackinnon, 'Universalizing the Promise of Empire'

23 May 2018, 5.15pm - 6.30pm - Dr Emile v Simpson, 'Civitas and Regnum: Grotius’ account of the sovereign entity in the De Iure Belli ac Pacis'

7 June 2018, 5.15 pm - 6.30 pm - Dr Kate Purcell, 'Histories of International Law, History within International Law: Questions of Method'

25 October, 5.15 pm, session 1 - Dr Ziv Bohrer, 'Transnational conflicts: a new kind of war?'

29 November, 5.15pm, session 2 - Dr Kate Miles, 'Constructing international law: property, commerce and "expectations"'

1 June 2017, 3.30-4.45pm - Professor Jason Sharman (Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations), 'The Grand Dichotomies: Sovereignty, the Public/Private Divide, and Company States'

10 May 2017, 3-4.15pm - Professor Eyal Benvenisti (Whewell Professor of International Law), 'Taming Democracy: Codifying the Laws of War to Restore the European Order, 1856-1874' (work-in-progress co-authored with Dr Doreen Lustig, Tel Aviv University)

3 May 2017, 5.15pm - Dr Duncan Kelly (Reader in Political Thought), 'Histories of International Law and the First World War'

15 Mar 2017, 5.15pm - work of Dr Iza Hussin (Lecturer in Asian Politics; Pembroke College)

1 Mar 2017, 5.15pm - work of Dr Renaud Morieux (Senior Lecturer in British History; Jesus College)

15 Feb 2017, 5.15pm - Reading and discussion (extracts from Benton & Ford, Rage for Order)