Helen Shears

I am a historian of diplomacy and international law in the early modern world, specializing in the treaty as a legal and diplomatic tool of European colonization. My dissertation examines British treaty-making at the turn of the eighteenth century by tracing the global communication networks that linked a community of colonial bureaucrats, who in turn used the process of peace-making to consolidate power on the ground. These textual trails, I argue, capture the decentralized and iterative process that transformed the imperial peace treaty from a legal fiction to a legal reality. In the digital age, the relationship between knowledge consumption, the circulation of information, and global geopolitics has become even more critical to grasp. The tools of bibliography and book history offer new insights regarding the practice of diplomacy and the negotiation of international law both in the eighteenth century and today.

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