Sovereignty, Property and Empire: Early Modern English Contexts
Theoretical Inquiries in Law , 2017
This Article is based on a larger work that seeks to map the uses of different legal vocabularies... more This Article is based on a larger work that seeks to map the uses of different legal vocabularies by ambitious European legal and political thinkers in the period of c. 1300-1800 in order to defend, explain and organize the exercise of power outside the domestic commonwealth. The Article examines the ways in which English legal languages (civil law, common law, natural law, jus gentium) were used to think about, propagate and defend English transatlantic expansion. For most of that time, in their relations public and private power remained closely interwoven. The pluralism of English law also contributed to the appearance of arguments from property and sovereignty in different configurations so that it is often hard to figure out which precise connotation is being made. The uses also varied significantly from Continental practices. I am above all interested in the imperial or colonial significance of these arguments. The point that emerges here is that by 1800, a conception of British Empire had arisen where the exercise of sovereign power was clearly derivative from and supplementary to claims about private property.
By Lesley Dingle and Daniel Bates
Professor Koskenniemi was the Visiting Goodhart Professor of Legal Science for 2008 - 2009 and was interviewed on two occasions by Lesley Dingle. The first interview was held in the Squire Law Libary (December 2008), while the second was in the Goodhart Lodge (August 2009). In the interviews, Professor Koskenniemi reflects first on becoming the annual Goodhart Professor, and then at the end of his tenure on his experiences in the position, including some comments on publications that appeared during this time.
Martti Koskenniemi is Professor of International Law and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki.
First Interview (2 December 2008): Reflections on Becoming the Goodhart Professor
Second Interview (18 August 2009): Reflections on his time as Goodhart Professor
A list of publications by Professor Koskenniemi relevant to these interviews is also available.