Law, bureaucracy and the practice of government and rule

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The chapter explores the 'logic of empire' in relation to law, bureaucracy and the practice of government, from the Ancient world to the present. Beginning with the complex example of Haile Selassie I and the Ethiopian Empire, the chapter analyses the many universalisms of law and empire, before moving on to a survey of different 'repertories' of imperial rule. The chapter then examines the numerous ways in which empires put law 'to work', facilitating the development of multiple, normative orders and institutions far beyond the jurisdiction of their own imperial officials. The final section of the chapter briefly introduces (post)colonial legal scholarship and the concept of 'legalism from below', with a specific focus on recent archival research in courtroom records.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford World History of Empire
EditorsPeter Bang, Christopher Bayly, Walter Scheidel
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780197533970
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021


  • Law
  • Bureaucracy
  • Government
  • Imperial Rule
  • Normative Orders
  • Institutions
  • Jurisdiction
  • Legalism
  • Courtroom


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