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Beneath Sovereignty: Extraterritoriality and Imperial Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century Egypt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-137
Issue number1
Early online date2 Mar 2018
Accepted/In press26 Jun 2017
E-pub ahead of print2 Mar 2018


  • Beneath Sovereignty_TODD_Publishedonline02March2018_GREEN AAM

    Beneath_Sovereignty.pdf, 320 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:06 Jul 2017

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

    This article has been accepted for publication and will appear in a revised form, subsequent to peer review and/or editorial input by Cambridge University Press, in Law and History Review, published by Cambridge University Press, © Cambridge University Press

King's Authors


The rise of extraterritoriality in the nineteenth-century has been described as a transitional phase that laid the ground for the construction of territorial sovereignty. Yet in Egypt, where a particularly extensive extraterritorial regime emerged in the mid-century, the expansion of European jurisdiction underneath national sovereignty became entrenched with the creation of international mixed courts in the 1870s. This outcome, the article argues, was the product of a complex compromise between European empires, which upheld different conceptions of extraterritoriality, and the government of Egypt. While Britain refashioned its own extraterritorial judicial system as a means of promoting legal reforms in the Ottoman world, France aggressively pursued the expansion of extraterritorial rights as an instrument of informal domination and economic exploitation. The creation of an international type of jurisdiction, less susceptible to French political pressures but applying a French system of law, proved acceptable to all parties, although it severely constrained Egyptian sovereignty from within, even after Britain took over the reins of government in 1882. Extraterritoriality was not merely a transition, but an original feature of the global legal order, arising out of modern imperialism and imperial rivalry and yet conducive to the forging of new instruments of international law and governance.

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