Book Reviews Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 14001900. By lauren benton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. xiii + 285 pp. $20.00 (paper). Much world history scholarship still treats culture and social institutions as local and bounded phenomena. Innovative research on broad global processes has focused on economic development or the environment. But culture, if seen as anything more than epiphenomenal, is still located within autonomous civilizations, religions, and societies, becoming global only through "exchange" and "interaction." This book, rooted in analyses of the complex interaction of law, property, power, and culture, presents the groundwork for more conceptions of culture at a global scale. It resonates with recent studies of contemporary "cultural globalization" that examine the mutual production of difference and homogeneity, while adding a dynamic historical dimension. Benton proposes the idea of a "legal regime" as broadly shared conceptions of how legal authorities are ordered and distinguished. She argues that a legal regime emerged across the Americas, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, based on the mutual recognition of distinct spheres of judicial authority and the common negotiation of standards for exchange and interaction. In the nineteenth century
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: May 27, 2003
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