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Dr Cait Storr is a Lecturer in Property Law at the University of Glasgow. Her transdisciplinary research addresses the role of property claims in the history and theory of international law, with a particular focus on conflicts over land and resource governance in decolonising states. Her doctoral thesis, a history of the transition from imperial to international administration in Nauru, won the University of Melbourne Chancellor’s Prize, and will be published with Cambridge University Press in late 2019. Cait has published on the history of imperial competition in the Pacific, mandates in international law, international environmental law, and on concepts of territory and jurisdiction. Her current research addresses the history and geopolitics of imperial competition in the Pacific region, with a focus on territorial disputes and contemporary developments in seabed mining.

Prior to joining Glasgow in 2019, Cait was an Early Career Academic Fellow at Melbourne Law School, and was the inaugural Research Fellow with the Institute of International Law and the Humanities. She is a junior faculty member with the Institute of Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School. Prior to commencing doctoral studies, Cait was a legal practitioner with a major firm working in major resource projects, and has worked for Indigenous organisations in Australia, and as a legal adviser to the Parliament of Nauru. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in History and Political Science, a Juris Doctor, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, and a Doctorate in Law. At Glasgow, she teaches Property in the Common Law LLB, and co-convenes the ReVisions Seminar series on new research in international law established by Dr Charlie Peevers.


Imperium in Imperio: Sub-Imperialism and the Recognition of Australian Sovereignty in International Law

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This article retraces the role of sub-imperialism in the formation of the Australian state as a subject of international law. The discourse of sub-imperialism developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a means of characterising the British self-governing Dominions’ uncertain status in the international order, and drew explicitly on the United States Monroe Doctrine. The article revisits the significance of sub-imperialist posturing at two critical junctures in the historical formation of the Commonwealth of Australia. The first is the formalisation in the early 1880s of the movement toward federation of the Australasian colonies as a response to perceived British acquiescence to German imperialism in the Western Pacific. The second is the Commonwealth government’s attempt during the Versailles negotiations of 1919 to annex to its territory the occupied German Pacific territories of New Guinea and Nauru. The principal argument made in this article is that attempts to establish an Australian sub-empire in the Western Pacific were fundamental both to the federation movement and the recognition of Australian sovereignty in international law. The article concludes that Australian sub-imperialism warrants greater attention both in accounts of the history of Australia’s transition from self-governing Dominion to sovereign status in international law, and in accounts of contemporary Australian foreign policy in the Pacific region.

Melbourne Journal of International Law / Volume 19 / Issue 1 / pp. 335-368