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Law and Colonial Cultures

Law and Colonial Cultures
Legal Regimes in World History, 1400–1900

$29.99 (G)

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Part of Studies in Comparative World History

  • Date Published: December 2001
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521009263

$ 29.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • This book advances a new perspective in world history, arguing that institutions and culture--and not just the global economy--serve as important elements of international order. Focusing on colonial legal politics and the interrelation of local cultural contests and institutional change, it uses case studies to trace a shift in plural legal orders--from the multicentric law of early empires to the state-centered law of the colonial and postcolonial world. Benton shows how Indigenous subjects across time were active in making, changing, and interpreting the law--and, by extension, in shaping the international order.

    • Offers an interesting perspective on world history
    • Treats legal history comparatively, not within a national framework
    • Develops a theory of the role of culture in international ordering
    Read more


    • Winner of the James Willard Hurst Prize of the Law and Society Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Lauren Benton's important new book deserves a careful reading from both legal historians and historians of imperialism. ...Benton is to be congratulated for these insights, and for bringing such far-flung, complex subjects together into a compelling whole. Naturally, in so doing, she reaches conclusions with which not everyone will be comfortable, but that is what good history does." H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online

    "Lauren Benton has written an original and fascinating book...a major contribution to the fields of history and law." Canadian Journal of Law and Society

    "This valuable compilation of contexts, examples, and analyses constitutes a fascinating and accessible read for scholars across disciplines. ...Benton's research is impeccable in its careful conceptualization and the breadth and depth of its analysis." American Journal of Sociology

    "This is a bold, sweeping, and highly innovative book...The sheer scale of this book, and its conceptual achievements, will make it a landmark in world history." American Historical Review

    "The greatest strength of this book is its development of a sophisticated argument that can act as a touchstone for future research on global cultural history...Benton provides a powerful counterpoint to the overdetermined narrative of European expansion...this book is a landmark in the creation of a more complex modern global cultural history built on more than just expansion and resistance, but on a shifting negotiation of power, culture, difference, homogenization, identity, and rights." Journal of World History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2001
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521009263
    • length: 300 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.415kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Legal regimes and colonial cultures
    2. Law in diaspora: the legal regime of the Atlantic world
    3. Order out of trouble: jurisdictional tensions in Catholic and Islamic empires
    4. A place for the state: legal pluralism as a colonial project in Bengal and West Africa
    5. Subjects and witnesses: cultural and legal hierarchies in the Cape Colony and New South Wales
    6. Constructing sovereignty: extra-territoriality in the Oriental Republic of Uruguay
    7. Culture and the rule(s) of law

  • Author

    Lauren Benton, New York University


    • Winner of the James Willard Hurst Prize of the Law and Society Association
    • Winner of the World History Association Prize 2003

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