My new book, Boundaries of the International: Law and Empire, was published by Harvard University Press in Spring 2018. Contrary to the common belief that international law originated mainly from relations among European states, I demonstrate that international law as we know it today was at least as much a product of Europe’s domineering engagements with non-European polities. Concerns of empire, then, were part and parcel to the rise of laws among nations, creating tangible legacies reflected in the unequal structure of the contemporary international order.
Reviews of the book can be accessed through the links below:
In my first book, A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France, I examine the profound shift that took place in British and French ideas about empire during the course of the nineteenth century. At the start of this period, thinkers such as Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and Jeremy Bentham not only criticized the injustice of European empires but also attempted to expose their disastrous political and economic consequences for the conquering nations. However, by mid-century, prominent British and French liberals like John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville had become staunch supporters of conquest in non-European lands. I show that this shift followed Europe’s civilizational self-confidence which grew in tandem with a view of imperial expansion as a political project that could help consolidate liberal democracy at home.
The Law of Nations in Global History, co-edited with David Armitage, brings together the first complete collection of Charles Henry Alexandrowicz‘s writings on topics from pre-colonial South Asia to the international order of the 1970s. Our introduction offers the first biographical and critical introduction to the life and thought of this remarkable Polish-British international lawyer and historian of international law.
My edition of Tocqueville’s Writings on Empire and Slavery brings together the first English translations of his major texts on Algeria; it also includes a new translation of his series of essays on slavery and abolition in the French Caribbean. Tocqueville made two trips to Algeria in 1841 and 1846, quickly becoming one of France’s foremost experts on the country and wrote essays, articles, official letters, and parliamentary reports on such diverse topics as France’s military and administrative policies in North Africa, the people of the Maghrib, his own travels in Algeria, and the practice of Islam. Throughout, Tocqueville consistently defended the French imperial project, a position that stands in tension with his admiration for the benefits of democracy he witnessed in America.