A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European by Lauren Benton

By Lauren Benton

A look for Sovereignty maps a brand new method of international heritage via interpreting the relation of legislations and geography in eu empires among 1400 and 1900. Lauren Benton argues that Europeans imagined imperial house as networks of corridors and enclaves, and they built sovereignty in ways in which merged rules approximately geography and legislations. Conflicts over treason, piracy, convict transportation, martial legislation, and crime created abnormal areas of legislations, whereas additionally attaching felony meanings to time-honored geographic different types akin to rivers, oceans, islands, and mountains. The ensuing felony and spatial anomalies stimulated debates approximately imperial constitutions and overseas legislation either within the colonies and at domestic. This unique research adjustments our realizing of empire and its legacies and opens new views at the international background of legislations.

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European overseas empires often blurred the distinction between sovereign and delegated authority, as they did, for example, in defining the legal authority of viceroys, who were supposed to serve as stand-ins for the king (see Alejandro Caneque, The King’s Living Image: The Culture and Politics ˜ of Viceregal Power in Colonial Mexico, New York: Routledge, 2004). As we shall see, though, conflicts in overseas empire repeatedly raised questions about the prerogatives 32 A Search for Sovereignty delegated legal authority produced irregular and only roughly concentric zones of control around them.

From here I entered C ¸ actan, and from C ¸ actan entered Chinamit, both being on lagoons and rivers of saltwater. From Chinamit, they took me by water to what is an inlet of an arm of the great lagoon. From there, going through the ranch of Pedro Hernandez, I came to Bacalar. All this was by canoe. 41 As with the rest of Salazar’s voyage, reported in the form of an itinerary, it would be difficult even now to map this sequence of moves. 42 Stopping places and destinations punctuated imperial corridors.

The experience of travel as movement along passages to discrete locations corresponded to ways of making sense of new landscapes and conveying information about them. In contrast to the rationalization of space through progressively accurate mapping, this project emphasized a set of repeating geographic features and, within this grammar, attention to distinctive qualities, the oddities or singularities of the specific case. Rather than producing the image of blank territories that could be known and dominated, this parallel process insisted that some parts of the world, and even integral parts of empire, might resist categorization or control.

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