Political Authority and the International

Sovereignty in the Margins of Empire: Global Order before International Order

Informal empire and gunboat diplomacy are two key terms scholars use to describe the British Empire’s intermeddling with states in its margins after the Napoleonic Wars. The first captures something of the condescension, and the second, some measure of the violence, which Britain imposed on its interlocutors. This paper focuses instead on exploring the way that internal ideas of order shaped Britain’s relations with a cluster of states in the Asia-Pacific region in the early nineteenth century. It suggests that, in this period, when the very term ‘international law’ was a new term of Jeremy Bentham’s invention, understanding how routines of internal legal reform and practices of adjudication were exported is crucial to understanding how the world worked and how interpolity legal order was imagined.

Lisa Ford is Associate Professor of History in the School of Humanities at UNSW. Her research centres on ideas and practices of order in the post-1763 British Empire and the early national United States. Ford’s prize-winning first book, Settler Sovereignty (Harvard, 2010), explains how and why North American and Australasian settler polities defined their sovereignty against indigenous customary law after 1800. This paper draws from her second book (co-authored with Professor Lauren Benton) entitled: Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International law, 1800-1850 (Harvard, 2016). Ford’s research has been supported by Australian Research Council grants. In 2012, she received the Max Crawford Award, recognising 'outstanding achievement in the humanities by young Australian scholars... whose publications contribute towards an understanding of their discipline by the general public.'

4.00pm Thursday 10 November 2016
Seminar Room, Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower
University of Queensland, St Lucia
For further information, please contact iash@uq.edu.au or 07 334 69492

All welcome.


Seminar Room, Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower, University of Queensland, St Lucia