By Lauren Benton

A look for Sovereignty maps a brand new method of global historical past via interpreting the relation of legislations and geography in eu empires among 1400 and 1900. Lauren Benton argues that Europeans imagined imperial area as networks of corridors and enclaves, and they developed sovereignty in ways in which merged rules approximately geography and legislations. Conflicts over treason, piracy, convict transportation, martial legislation, and crime created abnormal areas of legislations, whereas additionally attaching criminal meanings to frequent geographic different types reminiscent of rivers, oceans, islands, and mountains. The ensuing felony and spatial anomalies inspired debates approximately imperial constitutions and overseas legislations either within the colonies and at domestic. This unique examine adjustments our figuring out of empire and its legacies and opens new views at the worldwide background of legislation.

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Zones of Law, Zones of Violence: The Legal Geography of the British Atlantic, circa 1772,” William and Mary Quarterly 60, no. 3 (2003), 471–510. 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.

The Portuguese king placed escribaes served both as scribes and notaries; in Spanish, escribanos) on crews of early expeditions to Atlantic islands and West Africa and charged them 69 70 71 72 For an example of the adaptation of a legal routine in constituting political communities in Spanish America, see Tamar Herzog’s study of vecindad, or membership in municipalities. Tamar Herzog, Defining Nations: Immigrants and Citizens in Early Modern Spain and Spanish America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003).

Dunn and Kelley, The Diario, 181–3. See, again, Carter, in Road to Botany Bay, on the “indescribable” (44) nature of Australia when English observers abandoned metaphors. Daston and Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 50. Emphasis in original. 58 Such epistemological shifts help to explain the growing enthusiasm for modes of representing geography through narratives or tours and through descriptions of singular examples of universal types. Imperial geographies were fragmented in patterns produced through the naturally occurring repetition of features such as rivers, bays, and mountains, and then further variegated by sometimes unexplained local irregularities.

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