Decolonial Studies and Political Philosophy

Date: See program below
Instructor: Yolande Jansen
Register: send an email to Eloe Kingma at nica-fgw@uva.nl before March 15. Please be sure to specify your master program and university

All sessions take place in the P.C. Hoofthuis, Spuistraat 134, Amsterdam, room 1.15 on Wednesdays from 10:00-13:00.

In the humanities, globalization has until quite recently been studied from two rather distinct perspectives: either from a postcolonial or decolonial cultural-historical perspective, or from a normative, political theoretical perspective, often rooted in the liberal and human rights traditions. Over the last years, it has been increasingly recognized by scholars from both the cultural and political-theoretical fields that integrating these perspectives would be helpful to enhance the humanities’ critical and practical potential in today’s world. Criticism of the legacies of eurocentrism and colonialism in liberalism and the human rights traditions is then combined with cutting edge political philosophical work concentrating on questions of imperialism, freedom and global justice, f.e., increasingly, on resource and environmental justice.

This course looks at the intersection of decolonial studies and normative political philosophy, and tries to address them from a relatively integrated perspective. We bring together both fields in a systematic way by testing normative theories of global justice and human rights in political philosophy against the works of liberalism’s critics from a decolonial or critical theoretical perspective.

During the first three weeks, we will read a number of articles tracing the intricacies of colonialism and liberalism, both from an intellectual historical perspective, and from a systematic political theoretical perspective. After these readings we will concentrate on contemporary work on global justice. We will then compare the two traditions and discuss whether and in what ways they could be fruitfully combined for a decolonial philosophy of global justice, and discuss the the limitations of focusing on ‘justice’.

Teaching goals

  • Insight into political theory about global justice
  • Insight into critiques of the political philosophical liberal tradition from a decolonial perspective
  • Enhancing the capacity to formulate integrative perspectives on the merits of both traditions of criticism for formulating perspectives on global justice that are self-reflexive about the legacies of eurocentrism and imperialism

Content

During the first three weeks, we will read a number of articles tracing the intricacies of colonialism and liberalism, both from an intellectual historical perspective, and from a systematic political theoretical perspective. After these readings we will concentrate on contemporary work on global justice.

We will then compare the two traditions and discuss whether and in what ways they could be fruitfully combined for a decolonial philosophy of global justice, and discuss the limitations of focusing on ‘justice’. The course will take the form of intensive working groups.

Readings

  • James Tully. (2008) Public Philosophy in a New Key, Volume II; Imperialism and Civic Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Duncan Bell. (2016) Reordering the World; Essays on Liberalism and Empire. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press

These books will both be available through the library of the UvA (they will be on the ‘workshelf’). The books can be scanned or copied but not you cannot borrow them during the course. Other articles will be provided during the course, see below for the full list and where to find them.

Examination

For those who take credits from this course: Presentation (20%) and either (a) final paper or (b) final paper and take home exam (80%). You can choose between two options for the final exam: (a) either you choose to do a take home exam containing three questions which will be published two weeks before the deadline, together with a final paper of around 1500 words, or (b) you choose to write a final paper of around 4000 words. The deadline for both will be on 28 June at 23.59 hrs. The deadline for the resit is 8 August. The paper should be written according to basic academic standards (contain a bibliography, research question, careful argument, conclusion) but you are free to write in a mostly argumentative or a more essayistic or exploratory style.

Program

Week 1: 4 April | Imperialism, freedom and liberalism

 Week 2: 11 April | Liberalism and (settler) colonialism

Week 3: 18 April | Race, decoloniality and political philosophy

Week 4: April | Break

Week 5: 2 May | Imperialism, Capital and Property

Week 6: 9 May | Global Justice and Injustice, legacies of imperialism

Week 7: 16 May | Agency, Alternative epistemologies

 

Complete program, including readings: 2018 NICA Syllabus Political Philosophy and the Critical and Decolonial Humanities in a Global Age

 


This is a NICA core activity. Completing this activity earns you a certificate specifying the number of EC credits at stake. You can have this certificate formally registered at your institution’s administrative office. You may need to acquire the permission of your program coordinator and/or board of examinations in order to participate and earn credits for this activity.