Photo of Jennifer Pitts
Jennifer Pitts Office: Pick Hall 518B Phone: (773) 702-8868 Email
Professor of Political Science and in the Committee on Social Thought




Pick Hall 518B
5828 S University Ave
Chicago, IL 60637


Jennifer Pitts is Professor of Political Science and the Committee on Social Thought. Her new book, Boundaries of the International: Law and Empire, was published by Harvard University Press in spring 2018; it 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 2005); co-editor of The Law of Nations in Global History (Oxford 2017); and editor and translator of Alexis de Tocqueville: writings on empire and slavery (Johns Hopkins 2001). Her research interests lie in the fields of modern political and international thought, particularly British and French thought of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; empire; the history of international law; and global justice. She is a co-editor of the Cambridge University Press series Ideas in Context. At the University of Chicago, she is a member of the faculty board for the Human Rights Program and a fellow at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT).

Reviews of Boundaries of the International: Law and Empire:

Samuel Moyn, Political Theory

Annette Gordon-Reed, TLS

Michael Geyer, H-Diplo

John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs


Review of Samuel Moyn, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World, Political Theory 47.2 (2019), 267-305.

“Unchanged by change,” review of J.C.D. Clark, Thomas Paine: Britain, America, and France in the Age of Enlightenment and Revolution, Times Literary Supplement, September 7, 2018

International relations and the critical history of international law,” International Relations 31.3 (2017), 282-298. 

“International Law,” in Mark Bevir, ed., Historicism and the Human Sciences in Victorian Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2017), 237-261.

"'That hippopotamus the American people': Livingston’s Damn Great Empires!,” Theory & Event 20.3 (2017), 861–866.

The Critical History of International Law,” Political Theory 43.4 (2015), 541–552.

"Irony in Adam Smith's Critical Global History," Political Theory 45.2 (2017), 141–163 [online 2015].

"Empire and legal universalisms in the eighteenth century,"American Historical Review 117, No. 1 (February 2012), 92-121.

"Political Theory and Empire," Annual Review of Political Science 13, (2010): 211-35.


"Boundaries of the International," on the Political Theory Review podcast

"Tocqueville's America Revisited, Part 2," Ideas, CBC radio, Friday, October 21, 2016.

Tocqueville’s America Revisited, Part 1,” Ideas, CBC radio, Friday, October 14, 2016.