Lauren Benton appointed the Biggs Professor of History
Lauren Benton, recently named as the Barton M. Biggs Professor of History, is a comparative and world historian whose research focuses on law in European empires, the history of international law, and Atlantic world history. Her appointment will be effective on July 1.
Benton is currently the Nelson O. Tyrone Jr. Professor of History and professor of law at Vanderbilt University.
Benton is the author of four books, including three in global legal history: “Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850,” coauthored with Lisa Ford; “A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900”; and “Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900,” which was awarded the J. Willard Hurst Prize and the World History Association Book Prize. Benton’s co-edited books include (with Bain Atwood and Adam Clulow) “Protection and Empire: A Global History” and (with Richard Ross) “Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850.”
A graduate of Harvard University, Benton earned her Ph.D. in anthropology and history from Johns Hopkins University. She began her scholarly career as an economic anthropologist researching industrial labor and the informal economy in Spain and Latin America; during this time, she published “Invisible Factories: The Informal Economy and Industrial Development in Spain” and co-edited, with Alejandro Portes and Manuel Castells, “The Informal Sector: Studies in Advanced and Less Developed Countries.” Before joining the Vanderbilt faculty, Benton served as the Julius Silver Professor of History at New York University, where she was dean for the humanities and dean of the Graduate School. At Vanderbilt, she served as dean of the College of Arts and Science from 2015 to 2018.
Benton is currently president of the American Society for Legal History. In 2019, the Toynbee Foundation awarded Benton the Toynbee Prize for significant contributions to global history. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study.