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Department of History

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phone: 615-322-2851
301 Kirkland Hall

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A.B., 1978, Harvard University
Ph.D., 1987, in Anthropology and History, Johns Hopkins University

Lauren Benton

Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Professor of History
Professor of Law; Dean College of Arts and Science

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 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. She has coedited two books, including most recently, with Richard Ross, Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850 (New York University Press, 2013). A book currently in press with Harvard University Press and coauthored with Lisa Ford analyzes the British Empire and the origins of international law in the early nineteenth century world.

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 off-the-books 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.