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Lauren Benton

Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Professor of History
Professor of Law

Lauren Benton is a comparative and world historian whose research focuses on law in European empires, the history of international law, and Atlantic world history. Her most recent book (with Lisa Ford) is Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850 (Harvard University Press, 2016). Other books include A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2001), which was awarded the J. Willard Hurst Prize and the World History Association Book Prize. Benton has coedited three books, including (with Bain Atwood and Adam Clulow) Protection and Empire: A Global History (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and (with Richard Ross) Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850 (New York University Press, 2013).

Benton received her A.B. degree from Harvard University in 1978 and a Ph.D. in anthropology and history from Johns Hopkins University in 1987. She began her scholarly career as an economic anthropologist and wrote about industrial labor in Spain and Latin America (e.g., Invisible Factories: The Informal Sector and Industrial Restructuring in Spain, SUNY Press, 1989). Before coming to Vanderbilt, Benton was professor of history at NYU from 2003 to 2015, where she also served as Dean for the Humanities and Dean of the Graduate School.