Lauren Benton

Barton M. Biggs Professor of History and Professor of Law

Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
A.B., Harvard University

Lauren Benton

Lauren Benton is a comparative and world historian whose research focuses on the legal history of European empires and the history of international law. She is the Barton M. Biggs Professor of History at Yale, with a secondary appointment at the Law School.

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 James Willard Hurst Prize and the WHA Jerry Bentley Book Prize. Benton’s coedited books include (with Bain Attwood and Adam Clulow) Protection and Empire: A Global History and (with Richard Ross) Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500–1850.

In 2019, the Toynbee Foundation awarded Benton the Toynbee Prize for significant contributions to global history. She is a recent recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and currently serves as president of the American Society for Legal History.

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. Prior to coming to Yale, Benton was the Nelson O. Tyrone Jr. Professor of History and professor of law at Vanderbilt University. Her previous appointment was as Julius Silver Professor of History and affiliate professor of law at NYU. Benton served as dean of humanities and dean of the Graduate School at NYU and as dean of the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt.