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Professor Lauren Benton of Vanderbilt University is a renowned historian of law and empire.  Professor Benton will explore the historical significance of ‘small wars’ from the early modern period to the present.

Conquest featured war, and peace pacts represented attempts to end war.  These basic assumptions have helped to obscure histories of colonial violence and their legal logic.  Using a wide range of examples, including the Reconquista and Atlantic colonizing, this lecture traces the way the combination of truces and small wars structured the dynamics of conquest.  Legal justifications for small wars brought together elements of just war theory and quotidian understandings of betrayal and self-defense, styling conquered subjects as serial truce breakers.

Lauren Benton is the Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Chair of History and Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University.  She is co-author, with Lisa Ford, of Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850 (2016) and author of numerous books and articles on comparative colonial legal history, including A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900 (2010) and Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900 (2002).

When:   Monday 3 September, 5.30pm – 7.00pm 
Mitchell Library, Metcalfe Auditorium, Macquarie St, Sydney
Cost:      Free
Bookings:  via above button
Contact: or 0439 863 140
Hosted by: University of NSW & University of Technology Sydney