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Encounters Old and New in World HistoryEssays Inspired by Jerry H. Bentley$
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Alan Karras and Laura J. Mitchell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824865917

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824865917.001.0001

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Shadows of Sovereignty

Shadows of Sovereignty

Legal Encounters and the Politics of Protection in the Atlantic World

Chapter:
(p.136) Ten Shadows of Sovereignty
Source:
Encounters Old and New in World History
Author(s):

Lauren Benton

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824865917.003.0011

While highlighting the importance of protection to European ventures in the Indian Ocean, historians have tended to overlook its central role in structuring cross-polity relations in the Atlantic world. References to protection pervaded mutual security arrangements and anchored alliances across Atlantic regions. Rulers’ offer of protection to old and new subjects reinforced the legitimacy of imperial claims in the Americas. These multiple meanings of protection made the term politically useful and rhetorically irresistible. This chapter analyzes the way protection talk both structured alliances and created a flexible framework for cross-polity relations in the Atlantic world. It then suggests that meanings of protection began to shift in the early nineteenth century, when the term increasingly signaled more robust claims to sovereignty. The chapter honors Jerry Bentley’s insight that cultural encounters represented rich sites of political innovation in the early modern world.

Keywords:   Jerry Bentley, Atlantic, protection, empires, sovereignty, alliances, Indians

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