Political Philosophy and the Humanities in a Global Age

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.


  • Insight into cutting edge political theory about global justice, especially on resource and environmental justice
  • Insight into critiques of the political philosophical liberal tradition from a decolonial perspective and from a critical republican 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


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’.


James Tully. (2008) Public Philosophy in a New Key, Volume II; Imperialism and Civic Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

And articles by: Charles Mills, Duncan Bell, Ian Hunter, Leif Wenar, Henry Shue, Lea Ypi, Thomas Pogge, Barnor Hesse, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Duncan Ivison, David Armitage, Boaventura de Soussa Santos. These will be provided during the course.

Practical Info:
Dates: Thursdays April 6, 13 and 20, May 4, 11, and 18
Times: 9:00-12:00
Places: April 6 & 13 PCH – 5.25 / April 20  – OMHP E2.12  / May 4 – OMHP E2.12 / May 11 – PCH 1.04 / May 18 – OMHP E2.12

PCH: PC Hoofthuis, Spuistraat 134, Amsterdam
OMHP: Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, Amsterdam


Please register by emailing Eloe Kingma at nica-fgw@uva.nl. Be sure to specify your research master program. 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 processed 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.