Political Philosophy and the Decolonial Humanities
Time: Spring Semester (May-June 2022), specific dates TBA
Location: On site (University of Amsterdam)
Instructor: Yolande Jansen
Register ↯ (Please include a brief motivation in the ‘remarks’ section)
In the humanities, globalization has until quite recently been studied from two rather distinct critical perspectives: either from a postcolonial or decolonial cultural-historical perspective, or from a normative, political theoretical perspective, which is 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 critical 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 can then be combined with cutting edge political philosophical work concentrating on normative and critical theoretical approaches of racial inequality and global social (in)justice.
To contribute to this programme, 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 imperialism’s and/or liberalism’s critics from a decolonial perspective.
- 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
We will read articles tracing the intricacies of colonialism and liberalism, both from an intellectual historical perspective, and from a systematic political theoretical perspective. We will then compare the two traditions and discuss whether and in what ways they could be fruitfully combined within a decolonial humanities and/or human rights perspective
- James Tully (2008) Public Philosophy in a New Key, Volume II; Imperialism and Civic Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Charles Mills (2017) Black Rights / White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The reading list is quite long, not everyone will always have to read everything, we just want to present you with a broad spectrum of relevant literature. We will discuss how to proceed during the first class.
For those who take credits from this course: Preparation of class and presentation (30%) and final examination (70%). You can choose between different options for the final exam.
- You choose to write a final paper of around 3000 words. The paper should be written according to basic academic standards (contain a research question, careful argument, conclusion, bibliography, etc.) but you are free to write in a mostly argumentative or a more essayistic or exploratory style. You may also co-write the final paper with another student. Please see canvas for a collective document made by the NICA-students last year. We could also try to make such a document again.
- You prepare and record a publishable podcast with a group of 2 or 3 students.
- You connect to a social movement and offer them to help them tackle a theoretical problem based on the class readings and your reflection on them.
- You write a publishable book review in Dutch or English.
- You participate in an oral exam in a group of three or four students. During the last week of class all students will individually submit a one-page written preparation for this oral exam with critical points for discussion.
University of Amsterdam