Lecture by Inge van Hulle

20 September 2022 - 15:30 — 20 September 2022 - 18:00

'Britain and international law in West Africa: the practice of empire'

  • 20 September
  • 15.30 hours
  • IISH, Max Nettlau Room

On September 20th Inge van Hulle, Leader of Max Planck Research Group , will hold a lecture at the IISH entitled ''Britain and international law in West Africa: the practice of empire"


Abstract: Africa often remains neglected in studies that discuss the historical relationship between international law and imperialism during the nineteenth century. When it does feature, focus tends to be on the late nineteenth century, when the Scramble for Africa set in. In this talk, I highlight the importance of the early- and mid-nineteenth century as a period of legal experimentation with legal instruments that expanded or delineated the boundaries between British jurisdiction and African communities in West Africa. This legal experimentation went beyond treaties of cession, and also encompassed commercial treaties, the abolition of the slave trade, extraterritoriality, and the use of force. By the 1880s, the legal techniques that were fashioned in the language of international law in West Africa had largely developed their own substantive characteristics. Legal ordering was not done in reference to adjudication before Western courts or the writings of Western lawyers, but in reference to what was deemed politically expedient and practically feasible by imperial agents for the preservation of social peace, commercial interaction, and humanitarian agendas.

Bio: Inge Van Hulle was born in 1987 in Belgium. She studied history and law at KU Leuven in Belgium. From 2012 to 2016 she worked as a research assistant and PhD candidate under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Randall Lesaffer at KU Leuven. From 2016 to 2020 she was Assistant Professor of legal history at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, where she taught a wide variety of courses, such as history of international law, international legal history and history of empire. Since April 2021, she is head of the Max Planck Research Group  Legal Connectivities and Colonial Cultures in Africa at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory, Frankfurt am Main.’. She has published numerous articles and book chapters, including a recent monograph ‘Britain and international law in West Africa. The Practice of Empire’ (OUP, 2020).

IISH Seminar: This lecture is part of the monthly IISH Seminar series.
In principle, seminars take place every first Tuesday of the month. The seminar is open to the public, but with regard to accommodation, we would like you to register, secretar@iisg.nl, under mention of 'lecture Inge Van Hulle'.

Inge Van Hulle