A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European by Lauren Benton

By Lauren Benton

A look for Sovereignty maps a brand new method of global heritage through studying the relation of legislations and geography in ecu empires among 1400 and 1900. Lauren Benton argues that Europeans imagined imperial area as networks of corridors and enclaves, and they built sovereignty in ways in which merged principles approximately geography and legislation. Conflicts over treason, piracy, convict transportation, martial legislation, and crime created abnormal areas of legislation, whereas additionally attaching felony meanings to conventional geographic different types comparable to rivers, oceans, islands, and mountains. The ensuing felony and spatial anomalies stimulated debates approximately imperial constitutions and foreign legislations either within the colonies and at domestic. This unique research adjustments our knowing of empire and its legacies and opens new views at the international historical past of legislations.

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W. Norton, 2007). On evolving ideas about Christendom and their relation to the conceptualization of empire, see James Muldoon, Empire and Order: The Concept of Empire, 800–1800 (New York: Macmillan, 1999). I discuss barbarism and wildness in more detail in Chapter 5. Anomalies of Empire 33 lawlessness, a legal void, was in fact full of law. Imperial agents actively promoted the thrust of jurisdiction “beyond the line,” and no goal of empire could be achieved without the legitimization of subordinate legal authorities in distant locations.

Both in sojourners’ experiences of space and in the production of knowledge about distant geographies, Europeans adapted old strategies and created new ways of describing territory as differentiated, fragmented, and uneven. The experience of travel as movement along passages to discrete locations corresponded to ways of making sense of new landscapes and conveying information about them. In contrast to the rationalization of space through progressively accurate mapping, this project emphasized a set of repeating geographic features and, within this grammar, attention to distinctive qualities, the oddities or singularities of the specific case.

It might be said that the whole of the imperial world represented a zone of legal anomaly vis-a-vis the metropole. Certainly we can find important ` strands of legal discourse and administrative change focused on defining 82 83 84 Atlantic World, ed. James Delbourgo and Nicholas Dew (New York: Routledge, 2008), 177–202. Taylor, Late Tudor and Early Stuart Geography, 14. See also Peter C. Mancall, Hakluyt’s Promise: An Elizabethan’s Obsession for an English America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007).

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