Jack Jin Gary Lee

BA: University of Chicago, Sociology

Areas of specialization: sociology of law, political sociology, historical sociology of colonialism and empire, global and transnational sociology, international migration and development

Mechanizing Leviathan: Law, Politics and the Bureaucratization of Colonial States in the British Empire

Contemporary scholarship has focused on how differences in meaning and understanding between political actors have shaped political conflicts and the institutional configuration of the state (Vu 2010; Wilson 2011). Such differences only make sense in relation to particular historical contexts, highlighting the need for archival research and interpretation. In addition, social scientists have turned to the harbinger of the modern nation-state, the colonial state, to tackle questions about the differences in political regime, social organization and economic growth between societies (Lange 2009). The democratization and development of nations may, in other words, have deep roots. In this regard, we may ask: How did the colonial state bureaucratize? And, what have been the consequences of the centralization and rationalization of administration for political life? My dissertation examines how colonial officials’ enactment of legal and organizational changes from 1866 to 1939 shaped the government and society of two Crown Colonies – Jamaica and the Straits Settlements (Malacca, Penang and Singapore). In comparing these plural societies, I aim to understand how racially diverse social conditions affected colonial officials’ use of the law. I also examine the contrast between the cases to theorize the apparently inverse relationship between the historical processes of bureaucratization and democratization.

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