Department of History

Department of History
Department of History

Sandra den Otter

Associate Professor
Britain and the World, 18th-20th centuries; intellectual, legal and cultural histories, colonial history

Phone: 613-533-6000, ext: 74369
Fax: 613-533-6298
Office: Watson Hall 232


Post-Doctoral Fellow.  Center for European Studies. Harvard University. 1990-1991
Post-Doctoral Fellow. Department of History.  Queen’s University. 1990-1993
D. Phil., University of Oxford, 1990
Departments of History and Political Science.  McMaster University.
BA (Hons). 1982-1986


Sandra den Otter researches and teaches in the area of late 18th, 19th and 20th century British history with a particular interest in intellectual and cultural history. She is currently working on the reverberations on British intellectual life of colonialism in South Asia. This work focuses on the history of colonial legal cultures. She also continues to write on social welfare ideas and policies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and nineteenth century political thought, including the British philosophical idealists. In addition to historical research, den Otter has also developed programs on several different aspects of graduate education and presented this work in international venues.


HIST 289: Britain since 1851 (lecture)
HIST 328: Modern Britain (core seminar)
HIST 459: British Culture and Society, 1780-1914
HIST 400: Topics in History: The History of Human Rights and International Law


HIST 859: British Culture and Society, 1780-1914


Benjamin Disraeli Letters, 1868. Edited by Michel Pharand, Ellen H. Hawman, Mary S. Millar, Sandra den Otter, and M.G. Wiebe (University of Toronto, 2015). Awarded the Robert Lowry Patten Award by the Society of English Letters in 2016.

“Shifting Ideas of Individual and Social Responsibility in 19th and 20th century British Legal Cultures”, European Legal Developments: Social and Political Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Benjamin Disraeli Letters, 1865-1867. Edited by Michel Pharand, Ellen H. Hawman, Mary S. Millar, Sandra den Otter, and M.G. Wiebe (University of Toronto, 2013)

“The Law, Authority and Colonial Rule” in The Oxford History of the British Empire in India (Oxford University Press, 2012; paperback, 2016)

"A legislating empire’: Victorian political theorists, codes of law, and empire", Victorian Visions of Global Order: Empire and International Relations in Nineteenth Century British Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

 “Historicizing the Political: The Origins of a Historical Political Science in Britain, 1900-1914”, in Historicizing the Political, edited S. Stimson (Princeton University Press, 2006).

 “’The Restoration of the Citizen Mind’”: Bernard Bosanquet and the Charity Organisation Society” in Bernard Bosanquet, edited W. Sweet (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006). 

 “Freedom of Contract, Commercial Civilization and Colonial Law in British India”, ed. Martin Daunton, Worlds of Political Economy (London: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2004), 69-94.

“Freedom of Contract, the Market, and Imperial Law-Making” in Critiques of Capital in Modern Britain and America: Transatlantic Exchanges 1800-Present Day, edited M. Bevir and F. Trentmann (London: Palgrave/Macmillan, October 2002).

“Rewriting the Utilitarian Market”, European Legacy VI (2001), 281-293.

 “Thinking in Communities”: Late Nineteenth-Century Liberals, Idealists and the Retrieval of Community”, Parliamentary History (1997) 16, 67-84.

The British Idealists and Social Explanation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996; reissued 2010)

Current Work

Colonial Legal Empires and Nineteenth Century Political Thought

James Fitzjames Stephen, Writings on Empire and History