Associated Initiative

Protection, Empire, and Global Order in the Early Nineteenth Century

Monday, March 3rd, 2014
Lauren Benton
4:00 pm

Room 1092, Lincoln Hall 702 South Wright Street Urbana

Event Description

Practices and claims about the extension of protection over subjects featured in a wide variety of empires across regions and over several centuries. Colonial conflicts of the early nineteenth century British Empire brought this preexisting discourse of protection into sharp focus, transforming it subtly in the process. Two modalities – one referencing British power against external enemies and one involving claims about British law’s capacity to shelter subjects from internal enemies of order – were closely related in theory and practice. Tracing the connections between “inside” and “outside” protection through a comparative analysis of the legal politics of Ceylon and in the Ionian Islands, this lecture seeks to help recover the early nineteenth century imagination of imperial law and administration as constituting the spine of the global order. The legal meanings of protection in this period also help to illuminate the imperial origins of the “responsibility to protect” as it features in current debates about humanitarian intervention.

Lauren Benton

Department of History, New York University