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Rage for Order

Rage for Order

The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800–1850

Lauren Benton, Lisa Ford

ISBN 9780674972780

Publication date: 10/03/2016

International law burst on the scene as a new field in the late nineteenth century. Where did it come from? Rage for Order finds the origins of international law in empires—especially in the British Empire’s sprawling efforts to refashion the imperial constitution and use it to order the world in the early part of that century.

Rage for Order is a book of exceptional range and insight. Its successes are numerous. At a time when questions of law and legalism are attracting more and more attention from historians of 19th-century Britain and its empire, but still tend to be considered within very specific contexts, its sweep and ambition are particularly welcome…Rage for Order is a book that deserves to have major implications both for international legal history, and for the history of modern imperialism.”
—Alex Middleton, Reviews in History

Rage for Order offers a fresh account of nineteenth-century global order that takes us beyond worn liberal and post-colonial narratives into a new and more adventurous terrain.”
—Jens Bartelson, Australian Historical Studies


  • This book is a major achievement. Benton and Ford provide a powerful new way of understanding the global reach and effects of modern British imperialism. By connecting projects of colonial governance with new visions of global legal ordering, they offer a bold rethinking of the imperial context for the emergence of modern international law.

    —Robert Travers, Cornell University


  • Lauren Benton is Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Professor of History and Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University.
  • Lisa Ford is the author of the prizewinning Settler Sovereignty: Jurisdiction and Indigenous People in America and Australia, 1788–1836 and coauthor of Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800–1850. She is Professor of History at the University of New South Wales.

Book Details

  • Harvard University Press