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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 Dr Surabhi Ranganathan

The LHBS series is suspended for 2020-2021 but will be relaunched in Michaelmas 2021 in a revised format. More details to follow. 

Sessions for Lent Term 2021

Law & Society in History Lecture: Mobilities, Scales, Methods puts a spotlight on exciting new research that interrogates confluences and encounters between law, society and history, drawing law and society, legal history, and international law scholars into discussion about methods, mobility, and scales. Each seminar invites authors to place their new work in conversation with ongoing debates about the social and political dimensions of law, about appropriation, subversion, translation and transformation, and about the relationship between law and human behavior. The focus is on elaborating over the series a range of conceptual and methodological contributions to these debates.

The seminar will take place online via Zoom. The introductions to the books discussed in this seminar will be pre-circulated among registered participants.

To register for the individual sessions, please visit the programme page. Following registration, you will be sent a link with the Zoom invitation and the pre-circulated texts.

Previous sessions

Thursday 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"

Thursday 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"

Thursday 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"

Wednesday 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"

Thursday 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"

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

Wednesday 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."

Wednesday 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"

Wednesday 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"

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

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

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

Wednesday 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"

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

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

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

Thursday 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'

Wednesday 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)

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

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

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

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


Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7, Thursday 8 March 2018, 6.00 pm (series of three lectures followed by Q&A session Friday 9 March 2018) - Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lectures by Professor Sundhya Pahuja, 'The Changing Place of the Corporation in International Law' - all welcome.