Lauren Benton

Lauren Benton's picture
Barton M. Biggs Professor of History and Professor of Law; DGS, History
HQ 223, HQ 216 (DGS)
Fields of interest: 

Comparative empires; history of international law; Atlantic history; global and international history; British and Iberian empires

A comparative and world historian, Benton writes about global legal history and the history of European empires, especially British and Iberian empires. She completed her Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University and holds an A.B. from Harvard University. 
Benton’s research gauges the effects of legal conflicts on global and international orders. Her most recent book, They Called It Peace: Worlds of Imperial Violence, analyzes imperial violence between 1400 and 1900. Previous works examine constitutionalism in empires, histories of imperial sovereignty, law in slavery and abolition, and legalities of piracy. Before focusing on global legal history, Benton conducted ethnographic research on the informal sector and economic development in Latin America and Spain.
Benton is a recipient of the Toynbee Foundation Prize for significant contributions to global history. In 2022, she delivered the George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures at the University of Cambridge. Other honors and awards include a Berlin Prize fellowship, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, and membership in the Institute for Advanced Studies.
Before coming to Yale, Benton held faculty appointments at New York University and Vanderbilt University. She served as dean of humanities and dean of the graduate school at NYU and dean of arts and sciences at Vanderbilt. Benton was president of the American Society for Legal History in 2019-2020.
They Called It Peace: Worlds of Imperial Violence. Princeton University Press, (2024).
Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800–1850, coauthored with Lisa Ford. Harvard University Press, 2016.
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 James Willard Hurst Prize of the Law & Society Association; the Jerry Bentley Book Prize of the World History Association; and the PEWS Immanuel Wallerstein Memorial Book Award of the American Sociological Association.
Invisible Factories: The Informal Economy and Industrial Development in Spain. Anthropology of Work series, State University of New York Press, 1990.
Coedited volumes:
A World at Sea: Maritime Practices and Global History. Lauren Benton and Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, eds. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020.
Protection and Empire: A Global History. Lauren Benton, Adam Clulow, and Bain Attwood, eds. Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500–1850. Lauren Benton and Richard Ross, eds. New York University Press, 2013.
The Informal Economy: Studies in Advanced and Less Developed Countries. Alejandro Portes, Manuel Castells, and Lauren Benton, eds. Johns Hopkins University press, 1989.
Recent articles/chapters:
“Empire, Nation, and the International in the Mid-Century Atlantic.” Coauthored with Lisa Ford. In The Rise of the International (Oxford University Press, 2023).
“Interpolity Law.” In Oxford Handbook of History and International Relations (Oxford University Press, 2023).
“Protection Shopping among Empires: Suspended Sovereignty in the Cocos-Keeling Islands.” Past & Present, 257:1 (2022): 209-247. Coauthored with Adam Clulow.
“Beyond Anachronism: Histories of International Law and Global Legal Politics.” Journal of the History of International Law 21 (2019): 7-40.
“Pirate Passages in Global History.” In Piracy in World History (University of Amsterdam Press, 2021).
“Protection Emergencies: Justifying Measures Short of War in the British Empire.” In The Justification of War and International Order: From Past to Present (Oxford University Press, 2021).
“Legal Panics, Fast and Slow: Slavery and the Constitution of Empire.” Coauthored with Lisa Ford. In Power and Time: Temporalities of Conflict in the Making of History (University of Chicago Press, 2020).
Early Modern
Latin America
Western Europe
Empires & Colonialism
War & Society