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Jennifer Pitts

Political Science & the Committee on Social Thought
Portrait of Jennifer Pitts standing in front of door with posters

Photo: Jean Lachat

Jennifer Pitts is Professor of Political Science and in the Committee on Social Thought. Her research and teaching interests lie in the fields of modern political and international thought, particularly British and French thought of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; empire and post-colonial theory; the history of international law; and global justice. She is editing, with Adom Getachew, a volume of W.E.B. Du Bois’s writings on international matters. Her book Boundaries of the International: Law and Empire (Harvard University Press, 2018) explores European debates over legal relations with extra-European societies during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is also author of A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France (Princeton University Press, 2005); co-editor with David Armitage of The Law of Nations in Global History (Oxford University Press, 2017); and editor and translator of Alexis de Tocqueville: Writings on Empire and Slavery (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001). She is a co-editor of the Cambridge University Press series Ideas in Context.

Selected publications:

  • “Liberal Democracy and the Tenacity of Empire,” Contemporary Political Theory 19 (2020), 274–305 in an exchange on “The Afterlives of Empire,” ed. Inder Marwah.
  • “Law of Nations, World of Empires: The Politics of Law’s Conceptual Frames,” in History, Politics, and Law, ed. Annabel Brett and Martti Koskenniemi. Cambridge, 2020.
  • International Relations and the Critical History of International Law,” International Relations 31.3 (2017), 282-298.

View Jennifer Pitts’s biography on the Political Science Department’s website.