Lauren Benton

Barton M. Biggs Professor of History and Professor of Law

Ph.D. (Anthropology and History), Johns Hopkins University, 1987

A.B., Harvard University, 1978

Lauren Benton

Lauren Benton is a legal historian who writes about the legal history of European empires and the history of international law. 

Benton’s most recent book, on the global legal history of war, is They Called It Peace: Worlds of Imperial Violence (Princeton University Press, 2024). Other books include Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800–1850 (co-authored 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 from the Law & Society Association and the Jerry Bentley Book Prize from the World History Association. Benton’s co-edited 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, Benton received the Toynbee Prize for significant contributions to global history. In 2019–2020, she was a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and member of the Institute for Advanced Study. In 2021, she received a Berlin Prize fellowship.

Benton has served as president of the American Society for Legal History and is currently on the Advisory Board of the Journal of the History of International Law, the Editorial Advisory Board of the Cambridge History of International Law, and the International Editorial Board of the Journal of Comparative Legal History.  

Before coming to Yale, Benton was on the faculty at NYU and at Vanderbilt University. She 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.