My PhD thesis aims to explore the history of international law in the British Empire through the case studies of the Irish War of Independence (1919 – 1921) and the Second South African War (1899 – 1902). I look at the way actors on the ground in these imperial conflicts used the language and idea of international law, both to justify imperial expansion and provide counter-imperial claims of sovereignty and inclusion in the ‘family of nations’. From this discourse I then examine how the use of international legal argument shaped the actual practice of warfare, from the provision of humanitarian assistance to treatment of prisoners of war.
My wider research interests include the history of the humanitarianism and the International Red Cross, the history of crime, policing and emergency legislation in the British Empire, and the wider history of the Great War in South Africa and Ireland. I am also interested in historical legal cultures, namely how literature, folk-stories and tradition, shaped historical legal understanding.