Speakers in the Colloquium present works in progress drawn from their current research. We post titles and papers close to the presentation date.

All seminars take place on Fridays in the Fraser Building (Law) Room 158 at 2:30pm. Pre-seminars are held one week in advance in Fraser Building Room 205 from 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Please be sure to check the information for each event, listed below, in the event that a pre-seminar or seminar cannot be held at the customary time or place.

The Victoria Colloquium recognizes the generous support of the Faculty of Humanities.


March 22, 2024: Talha Syed (UC Berkeley Law)


Legal Realism and CLS from an LPE Perspective

What is the role of law in political economy? And what is the role of political economy in law? And in both cases, when we speak of “law” and “political economy,” are we speaking of academic disciplines or social realities? This tangle of questions constitutes, I take it, the orienting research agenda of the emerging “law and political economy” movement in legal academia. Questions concerning not so much the interaction as the interrelation of law and political economy, with each of these understood simultaneously as fields of study and areas of social life. And within that agenda the legacy of two prior efforts at grappling with these questions—Legal Realism and Critical Legal Studies (CLS)—looms large. This Article seeks to take stock of that legacy, and to advance a critique of central aspects of the received traditions of Realism and CLS, for the sake of developing new foundations for the analysis of both law and political economy.

The best way to understand Legal Realism and CLS, this Article contends, is along two dimensions: (1) the first concerns the critique of legal reasoning; (2) the second the role of law in society. After setting out the central Realist and CLS claims on both these fronts, I offer critiques on each, ones that seek to push further in the same direction as the Realist/Crit views but in ways that ultimately repudiate the premises underlying these views. The main lines of Realism and CLS are, I contend, hostage to formalist premises in legal theory and liberal ones in social theory. This owes to the posture of internal critique that both adopted as their dominant strategy. Yet a central claim of the present Article is that the method of critique is always already a method of construction, both in the critique of law and the critique of political economy. To think the two may be separated is perhaps the fundamental flaw in the dominant strands of Legal Realism and CLS. And so in that vein, the Article offers a set of contrasting ideas for the development of legal, political, and social theory.


Professor Syed teaches at UC Berkeley Law, and is a graduate of University of Victoria Law School and Harvard University. His research is in law and political economy, with applications to intellectual property, property, torts, antitrust, educational policy, and theories of distributive justice. His present research focuses on three areas: a series of articles on the legal, political, and social theory of a distinctive "law and political economy" approach; a pair of articles on the intersection of antitrust and IP; and a book-in-progress titled Pharmaceutical Innovation Policy--From Patents to Public Utility.

Colloquium Reading:

 Syed, Talha, Legal Realism and CLS from an LPE Perspective

Pre-Seminar Reading:

The pre-seminar is from 1:30 - 2:30, in room 205, Fraser bldg (March 15).

Benkler and Syed, "Reconstructing Class Analysis" 

Supplemental Reading:

Syed, Talha, 2018. "Educational Accommodation as Distributive Equity: the Principle of Proportionate Progress." Connecticut Law Review 50:2 485-560. 


March 8, 2024: Pablo Gilabert (Concordia University)


Real Interests, Well-Being, and Ideology Critique

In a common, pejorative sense of it, ideology consists in attitudes whose presence contributes to sustaining, by making them seem legitimate, social orders that are problematic. An important way a social order can be problematic concerns the prospects for well-being facing the people living in it. It can make some people wind up worse off than they could and should be. They have “real interests” that are not properly served by the social order, and the interests aligned with it are in fact “false” or merely “apparent.” Ideology critique notes the existence of such different interests and challenges the latter to facilitate the fulfillment of the former. This picture of ideology critique implies that ideology thwarts well-being This paper aims to clarify, develop, and vindicate this picture. It argues that ideology critique should indeed draw (inter alia) on prudential considerations, and that a specifically objectivist view of well-being would be fitting. The fruitfulness of this approach is shown by exploring the specific case of the critique of working practices in contemporary capitalism, in particular regarding the problem that in them workers’ self-determination, self-realization, and supportive social relationships are stunted rather than unleashed.


I am a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). I am a native of Argentina. My areas of specialization are social and political philosophy and ethics. Within these areas, my research and teaching interests include topics in social justice and human rights. I am also interested in distributive issues, democratic theory, contractualist theories in normative ethics, the Frankfurt School tradition of critical theory, Kant’s practical philosophy, and Marxism and socialism. 

Pre-Seminar Reading:

The preseminar is from 1:30 - 2:30, in room 205, Fraser bldg (March 1)

Haslanger, Sally. 2021. “Political Epistemology and Social Critique.” Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy 7: 23-65

 Pablo Gilabert “Real Interests, Well-Being, and Ideology Critique”

February 2, 2024: Susan Stokes (University of Chicago)


Trash-Talking Democracy: How Leaders Erode Their Democracies and How to Stop Them 


Prime ministers and presidents who aggrandize their powers and erode their democracies use rhetorical strategies to retain popular support. They use polarizing language, vilifying opposing parties, and they denigrate their countries' democratic institutions. This latter strategy, which I call trash-talking democracy, has been little studied but has significant advantages over polarization, from the standpoint of backsliding leaders. It also raises distinct challenges to those who seek to resist democratic erosion: how to bolster confidence in democratic institutions while being forthcoming about their very real shortcomings?


Susan Stokes is the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the Chicago Center on Democracy.

Her research and teaching interests include democratic theory and how democracy functions in developing societies, distributive politics, and comparative political behavior.

Her single and co-authored books include Mandates and Democracy: Neoliberalism by Surprise in Latin America (2001), Brokers, Voters, and Clientism: The Puzzle of Distributive Politics (2013), and Why Bother? Rethinking Participation in Elections and Protests (2019). 

Pre-Seminar Reading:

The pre-seminar will be held Friday, January 26th at 1:30pm at the Fraser (Law) Building, Room 205. 

Trash-Talking Democracy: How Leaders Erode Their Democracies and How to Stop Them


November 10, 2023: Jeremy Webber (UVic)

Jeremy Webber

Democracy-Friendly Theory of the Rule of Law


The dominant way of thinking about the rule of law is that it is a constraint, a limit, on government. On this view the limitation applies with equal necessity to all forms of government, democratic and undemocratic, and to both the executive and the legislative branches. The privileged institution for enforcing those limits is the courts. Democracy and the rule of law are, in effect, portrayed as though they were in opposition to one another.

That, I claim, is a mistake a) historically (for, in the Anglo-American tradition, the rule of law developed first as a restriction on an undemocratic executive, with a less undemocratic Parliament acting in concert with the courts to institute the rule of law); b) in principle (for there is a strong argument that democracy needs the rule of law for its fullest expression, and the rule of law needs democracy); and c) strategically (because it hinders us from mobilizing our full resources to protect both principles; this paper began its life as a response to populist movements, many of which, wrongly, are conceded to be democratic).

In this paper I make that case, especially focusing upon its most controversial claim, namely that the rule of law needs democracy. This paper forms part of a larger project on democratic constitutionalism in which I reconsider key concepts in constitutionalism in a manner that takes democratic decision-making to be fundamental to contemporary constitutionalism.

October 20, 2023- Amalia Amaya Navarro (Edinburgh)

 Amaya Navarro

Reasoning in Character: Virtue, Legal Argumentation and Judicial Ethics


This paper develops a virtue-account of legal reasoning which significantly differs from standard, principle-based, theories. A virtue approach to legal reasoning highlights the relevance of the particulars to sound legal decision-making, brings to light the perceptual and affective dimensions of legal judgment, and vindicates the relevance of description and specification to good legal reasoning. After examining the central features of the theory, the paper proposes a taxonomy of the main character traits that legal decision-makers need to possess to successfully engage in legal reasoning. The paper concludes by discussing an array of strategies in legal education, institutional design, and legal culture that can be put in place to work virtue in legal decision-making.


Professor Amaya works primarily in philosophy of law, with a particular focus on legal reasoning and epistemology, theories of justice, and international normative theory. Her prior work has aimed at analyzing the role of coherence in legal reasoning. The main outcome of this research is the book The Tapestry of Reason (2015). Professor Amaya’s current research project is on law, virtue and character. On this topic, she has co-edited Law, Virtue and Justice (with Ho Hock Lai, 2012), The Faces of Virtue in Law (with Claudio Michelon, 2020) and Virtue, Emotion and Imagination in Legal Reasoning (with Maksymilian del Mar, 2020). She is now working on a book manuscript that seeks to develop a virtue approach to legal reasoning and judicial ethics. She is also interested in exploring the role of exemplarity in contemporary legal and political culture and, especially, its implications for problems concerning the nature of authority at both the domestic and the global level. In addition, she is engaged in research on fraternity as a legal and political ideal, which addresses the conceptual, practical, and institutional dimensions of the idea of fraternity. 

Pre-seminar readings

"The Virtue of Judicial Humility"

"The Relevance of Fraternity"

Seminar reading

"Reasoning in Character"

September 29, 2023: Catherine Lu (McGill)

Catherine Lu

Solidarity with the oppressed? Challenges of solidarity in contexts of structural injustice


Calls for solidarity with the oppressed are ubiquitous. Institutions have increasingly issued statements of solidarity with the oppressed, and a variety of practices, from signing online petitions to mass social protests, have been characterized as examples of solidarity with the oppressed. This paper has 3 parts, answering the following questions: (1) What does solidarity look like in conditions of structural injustice? Is solidarity in such contexts emancipatory, instrumentally and non-instrumentally valuable? (2) Should we characterize cooperative activity between the privileged and oppressed as solidarity? What are the benefits and pitfalls of doing so? If we try to conceptualize privileged-oppressed cooperation as solidarity, what are the criteria for the privileged to act in solidarity with the oppressed? (3) What makes a solidaristic society? If the correct aim of solidarity is to transform unjust social structures, what makes a solidaristic society distinct from a just society?


Catherine Lu is Professor of Political Science at McGill University, and Director of the Yan P. Lin Centre, as well as coordinator of the Lin Centre’s Research Group on Global Justice. Her research interests intersect political theory and international relations, focusing on critical and normative theoretical studies of colonial international order, structural injustice, and global justice; alienation and reconciliation;  and cosmopolitanism and the world state. She is the author of articles on these themes, as well as two books: Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2017), which won four book prizes, and Just and Unjust Interventions in World Politics: Public and Private (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

Pre-Seminar reading

Reconciliation as Non-Alienation


March 10, 2023: Duncan Ivison (University of Sydney)

Duncan Ivison

A Taxonomy of Injustice


In recent political theory, various arguments have been mounted to suggest that we can perceive or intuit injustice more directly than what is just (and perhaps, more broadly, what is bad as compared to what is good). Call this the asymmetry thesis. This thesis has become increasingly influential. But what kind of injustice? Whose injustice? After some general reflections on the nature of the asymmetry, I offer an initial taxonomy of injustice. Recognizing the diversity of our senses of injustice might well have implications for how we theorize about justice more generally, but might also cast some doubt on the strength of the purported asymmetry itself.


Duncan Ivison is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Sydney. He is the author of Can Liberal States Accommodate Indigenous Peoples? (2020), Rights (2008), Postcolonial Liberalism (2002), and The Self at Liberty (1997). He was previously Head of the School of Humanities (2007-10), Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (2010-2015), and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) (2015-2022), all at the University of Sydney.

Pre-seminar reading

Ivison, "Pluralising Political Legitimacy"

Seminar reading

Ivison, "A Taxonomy of Injustice" 

January 20, 2023: Anna Jurkevics (UBC)

Anna Jurkevics

World-building, Democracy, and the Limits of Sovereign Mastery


What does democracy require of us when it comes to governing land? More fundamentally, what does it mean to be free with regard to land? This talk explores these questions and proposes a geographically-attuned theory of democracy as world-building. To do so, I draw on a set of puzzles and shortcomings in European political theories of land, property, and work. My primary interlocutors are Hannah Arendt, GWF Hegel, Martin Heidegger, and Bonnie Honig. Ultimately, I find that these thinkers fail, albeit in illuminating ways, to provide convincing normative foundations for democratic world-building. To ground a robust theory of democracy over land, we will have to turn elsewhere, for example to indigenous theorists and anarchists. Moreover, I find that when it comes to land, it is time to abandon the framework of popular sovereignty that has long guided democratic theory. A truly democratic and participatory theory of land governance must sever any connection with sovereign mastery.


Anna Jurkevics is a political theorist and an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia (PhD Yale 2017). Her research explores theories of land and territory from the vantage point of critical theory and the German tradition. She is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Contested Territory: A Theory of Land and Democracy Beyond Sovereign Bounds. Her work has appeared in Political Theory, the European Journal of Political Theory, and Modern Intellectual History, among other venues.

Pre-seminar reading

Jurkevics, Land Grabbing and the Perplexities of Territorial Sovereignty 

Seminar reading

Jurkevics, World-Building and Democracy*

*Note: readers may want to skim the sections on Arendt and Hegel to save time.

November 25, 2022: Coel Kirkby (University of Sydney)

 Coel Kirkby

Inventing Necessity: Law and Revolution in Cold War Africa


Law and revolution have shaped modernity, yet their study remains dominated by the writings and concerns of a narrow Western canon. This paper responds to this history by exploring alternative anticolonial writing on the specific problem of the coups d'état across independent Africa in the 1960s. I first set out how British legal scholars framed and analysed the problem of revolutionary legality: if and how judges should rule on the legality of an unconstitutional change of government. I juxtapose this discourse and its assumptions to the heated debate in the pages of Transition, the Kampala-based popular magazine, between Ugandan, Kenyan and Tanzania scholars over these same events. The evolving answer of the loose 'Dar es Salaam school' started from an immanent critique of African postcolonial political economy. The result was a different set of problems that asked what role of judges should play in the broader reconstructive project to decolonise the modern African state characterised by political independence and economic dependence.


Coel Kirkby joined Sydney Law School in 2018 and is Associate Director of the Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence. He was elected the Smuts Research Fellow in Commonwealth Studies at the University of Cambridge for 2017-18. Before that he was a McKenzie Fellow at Melbourne Law School, an Endeavour Fellow at UNSW, and a researcher at the Dullah Omar Institute in Cape Town, South Africa. He has also worked on contemporary constitutional reform projects from Fiji and Tuvalu to Victoria and South Africa.

Dr Kirkby is both a historian of the legal thought and practice of British imperialism, and a comparative constitutional scholar concerned with its legacies in postcolonial states. He has published a number of articles and chapters in the Modern Law ReviewUniversity of Toronto Law JournalOsgoode Hall Law Journal and elsewhere. Coel is currently completing two books on the birth of liberal democracy in the British Empire over the nineteenth century. He is also working on a new book, The Immanentists, on law and revolution during the Cold War.

Seminar reading

"Inventing Necessity" [DRAFT] 

October 28, 2022: Kimberley Brownlee (UBC)

Kimberley Brownlee

Seminar: The Razian's Elephant in the Room: When do Interests Give Rise to Rights?


Many legal theorists and political philosophers – myself included – rely on Joseph Raz’s version of the interest theory of rights: we use rights-talk when we believe that some person’s interest has sufficient moral importance to justify holding others to be under specific duties to serve that interest. Sometimes the specified duties are purely moral, but often they’re presumptively legal too. When we rely on Raz’s interest theory we tend not to dwell, however, on the fact that we can conceive of the moral importance of interests in different ways which yield different answers to the question of whether those interests generate rights. This paper explores four factors that can alter our assessment of the moral importance of interests. These four factors represent challenges that must be grappled with if we are to draw determinate boundaries around rights generating interests, especially in key areas such as human rights law. First, when assessing the moral importance of an interest, should we take into account whether it is possible to secure that interest? Second, should we consider an interest in isolation from a person’s other interests or in aggregation with some of her other interests, thereby allowing that individually unimportant interests could aggregate to form morally important bundles that generate rights? Third, should we focus on types of interest or on token interests? For instance, in the case of marriage, should we focus on the fact that adults have a type-interest in being able to marry or on the fact that many women (and girls) lack token-interests in being able to marry? Fourth, should we take into account a person’s own perspective on the importance of her different interests? This lecture will unpack these four challenges and consider the pros and cons of possible solutions.

Pre-seminar readings:

Raz, "On the Foundations of Human Rights"

Tasioulas, "Morality of Freedom"

September 23, 2022: Terrell Carver (University of Bristol)

Terrell Carver

Seminar: Marx Update


Marx is a moving target, but so are his readers. And so are his scholarly editors and translators. Regrettably, though, some of his recent biographers and commentators haven’t moved on very much, partly from keeping him the same and playing safe, and partly from the genre-constraints of intellectual biography and textbook-mainstreaming. Moreover some of his ideas go unmarked and uncredited because they have merged with liberal-minded commonsense and taken-for-granted methodologies. In sum he is a complex cultural phenomenon, taking in visual, dramaturgical and cinematic representation.

This talk will cover various ways that Marx has changed, because we – or rather some of us in the scholarly community – have changed. The text for this talk will be in outline form covering topics such as the Gesamtausgabe (MEGA) or Complete Works project and its editorial politics; the shifting canon of ‘great works’ over the last 120 years; ‘Marx and ...’: ecology, the anthropocene, settler societies, Indigeneity and racial capitalism; feminism and the politics of sex, gender and sexuality; democracy, social democracy and socialisms.

But how to read Marx is changing, given his will to interpret the world and to change it. This is because our understanding of his reception through Engels and subsequent Marxisms has critically evolved; because our contextual understanding of what he thought his words were doing is improving; and because our literary and analytical skills have developed very considerably in a multi- and inter-disciplinary way.

It's a fair question what Marx’s words are doing for us, and why we don’t want him to leave us alone.


Terrell Carver is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Bristol, UK. He has published very extensively on Marx, Engels and Marxisms, and is co-general-editor (with Marcello Musto, York University, Toronto) of a book series of that name for Palgrave Macmillan. His latest books are Marx in the ‘Classic Thinkers’ series for Polity Press, 2018; Engels Before Marx for Palgrave Macmillan. 2020; and The Life and Thought of Friedrich Engels, 30th Anniversary Edition, for Palgrave Macmillan (2020).

Talk materials

Abstract + Outline


March 6, 2020: Richard Bellamy (University College London)



Seminar: When is Democracy Constitutional? On the Relations between Political, Populist and Popular Constitutionalism

Constitutional democrats tend to argue that the constitutional qualities of democracy are derived from a legal constitutional framework that provides the justiciable foundations for and constraints upon the democratic process. Political constitutionalists have disagreed, arguing instead that a democratic process can be understood as embodying constitutional qualities. However, they have, in turn, been subject to two powerful criticisms. On the one hand, liberal minded constitutional democrats have argued that political constitutionalism encourages populist appeals to the tyranny of the majority which can undermine important constitutional checks on democracy necessary to prevent it undermining both itself and the basic rights of citizens. On the other hand, radical and participatory democrats argue political constitutionalism neglects the role of direct forms of democracy as a means for allowing the people themselves to constitute the democratic process via referendums, and to appeal to the constitution through the courts to contest executive actions that serve the few rather than the many. This piece seeks to defend political constitutionalism against both these criticisms.

Richard Bellamy is Professor of Political Science at UCL. His main research interests are in the History of European Social and Political Theory post-1750 and Contemporary Analytical Legal and Political Philosophy. He has written extensively on the history of both Italian political thought and European liberalism, on Pluralism, Compromise and Public Ethics; Constitutionalism, Rights and the Rule of Law; and Citizenship, Representation and Democracy. His books include Liberalism and Pluralism: Towards a Politics of Compromise; Political Constitutionalism and Citizenship: A Very Short Introduction, and A Republican Europe of States: Cosmopolitanism, Intergovernmentalism and Democracy in the EU.

Preseminar readings:

Bellamy, "A European Association of Democratic States"

Bellamy, "Rights as Democracy"

January 31, 2020: Mitra Sharafi (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Seminar: “South Asians and West Africans at the Inns of Court: Empire and Expulsion circa 1900”

Description: Between the 1860s and 1950s, thousands of non-European students from across the British empire studied at the Inns of Court in London to become barristers. Using the disbarment files of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, this paper explores the experience of being a colonial lawyer or law student in the British empire at the turn of the twentieth century. It focuses on three disciplinary cases involving South Asians or West Africans: A. K. Ghose and his fraudulent “spirit letters,” anti-imperial revolutionary Shyamji Krishnavarma, and O. R. Aladé following a criminal conviction. These three cases occurred in the relatively early days of the flow of South Asian and West African students to the Inns. They reflected the imperial legal profession’s views of racial difference; truthfulness, deception, good character, and loyalty to British rule; and the definition of terrorism and the legitimacy of using violence to resist tyranny. The paper is part of a larger book project on non-Europeans at the Inns of Court.

Preseminar readings:

Mack, "Representing the Race"

Sharafi, "Introduction" to Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947


November 1, 2019: Gorden Christie (UBC)


Seminar: “Working with Perspectives in Making Sense of Section 35 Jurisprudence”

Professor Gordon Christie is one of Canada’s leading Indigenous scholars. He joined the UBC Faculty of Law in 2004 and held the position of Academic Director of the Indigenous Legal Studies Program at UBC’s Allard School of Law from 2005 to 2016. Professor Christie is of Inupiat/Inuvialuit ancestry. He researches in the areas of Aboriginal rights, Aboriginal title, Indigenous self-determination, and the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous peoples. He especially focuses on the intersection between Indigenous law and Aboriginal law that has developed through Canadian jurisprudence on section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Professor Christie holds a BA in Philosophy from Princeton University, an LLB from the University of Victoria, and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has taught at Lakehead University, Central Michigan University, and Osgoode Hall Law School at York University from 1998 to 2004, where he was the Director of the Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments. This session coincides with the  publication of his new book: Canadian Law and Indigenous SelfDetermination: A Naturalist Analysis (University of Toronto Press). 

Abstract: Explanations of the nature of the jurisprudence on section 35 are wildly divergent, and there appear to be no serious efforts underway to work toward any sort of convergence.  Arguably, much of this phenomenon is the result of the groundings of legal theorists’ work in varied perspectives.  I tackle this problem directly, arguing for a form of methodological naturalism that treats the facts of divergence and perspectivalism as matters to be explored in the social worlds we inhabit.  The result is, I argue, an explanation for what Canadian courts have been doing that makes sense of not just the jurisprudence but of approaches to the jurisprudence evident in the literature.

Pre-Seminar Reading:

Christie, Suppression of Indigenous Understandings of Justice and Morals

Seminar Reading:

Christie, "Differing Understandings and the Way Forward"

October 4, 2019: Alex Livingston (Cornell University)


Seminar: “Tough Love: The Political Theology of Civil Disobedience"

Alexander Livingston is Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University. His research examines race, religion, and dissent with a focus on American political thought. He teaches courses on civil disobedience, theories of democracy, political violence and nonviolence, contemporary political theory, and the history of political thought. 

His first book, Damn Great Empires! William James and the Politics of Pragmatism (Oxford University Press, 2016), examines William James’s role in debates about U.S. imperialism at the turn of the century to show how pragmatism developed as a political response to crises of authority and sovereignty driving the expansion of American global power. His current book project, Inventing Civil Disobedience, looks at the theory and practice of civil disobedience in the long civil rights movement, and their afterlives in contemporary protest politics. Before coming to Cornell, he was a Social Science and Humanities Research Council postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University (2011-2013). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto.

Abstract: This article examines the meaning of love in the theory and history of civil disobedience. Taking as its focus Martin Luther King, Jr.’s paradoxical notion of “aggressive love,” it offers a critical interpretation of love as a key concept in a vernacular black political theology, and the consequences of love’s displacement by law in liberal theories of disobedience. The first section contextualizes the origins of aggressive love in an earlier generation of black theologians who looked to India’s anticolonial struggle to reimagine the dignity of the oppressed as “creative survival.” The second contextualizes King’s early sermons on moral injury, self-respect, and personalism within this tradition to reinterpret Stride toward Freedom’s account of nonviolent resistance as love’s triumph over fear. The third considers this political theology’s implications for conceptualizing the moral psychology of the white citizen, and its consequences for contemporary debates over protest and the ideological uses of Civil Rights history. Responding to oppression with aggressive love illustrates a paradoxical character of civil disobedience obscured by both legal theories and criticisms of the very idea of “civil” disobedience. This is the paradox of affirming civility while enacting disobedience in order to bind political confrontation with political pedagogy.

Pre-Seminar reading:

Livingston, “Tough Love”

March 8, 2019: Melvin Rogers (Brown University)


Seminar: Being a Slave of the Community: Race, Domination, and Republicanism

Professor Rogers has wide-ranging interests located largely within contemporary democratic theory and the history of American and African-American political and ethical philosophy. His first book, The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality, and the Ethos of Democracy, explored these issues through an interpretation of John Dewey's writings and the theme of human responsiveness central to his work. That book was haunted by the unpursued theme of racial injustice and its place in American democracy. Professor Rogers' second book--The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought--will be devoted to figures within American and African-American political thought; it will combine close readings of figures and historical contextualization to think through the themes of democratic responsiveness, redemption, and faith amid racial injustice.

In addition to his past published book and current book project, he has edited John Dewey, The Public and its Problems, is at work on African American Political Thought: A Collected History  (under contract: University of Chicago Press), a collection of 32 essays on figures in the tradition of African American political thought co-edited with Jack Turner, as well as a new edited project tentatively titled Race and the Imagination. His articles appear in major academic journals as well as popular venues such as Dissent, the Atlantic, Public Seminar, and Boston Review.

In addition to these past and current projects, Professor Rogers now serves as the co-editor of Oxford University Press New Histories of Philosophy series. The series attends to the unstudied resources in the history of philosophy. Although I'm interested in the entire series, I'm especially keen to build its list in Africana Philosophy.


Any effort to understand approaches to justice that rest on principles of non-domination would do well to reflect on those who have sought to address racial domination. In particular, the resources of 19th century African-American political thought have much to offer. In the 19th century African American intellectuals, seeking to discover how to undo and ward off racial domination, drew on two different strands of the philosophical tradition of republicanism. In the process they produced a third strand in which republicanism is linked to racial equality. A look at this body of work offers us the chance to recover resources for contemporary projects of justice, while also requiring us to revise traditional accounts of when and where republicanism, as a political theory, has waxed and waned. It will turn out that the work of building a political theory for justice as non-domination also requires undoing forms of domination reflected in the historiographic tradition. My lecture will recover this tradition in the African-American political thought while raising doubts about the inadequacy of the current revival of republicanism in addressing racial domination. 

Seminar Presentation:

  • Being a Slave of the Community: Race, Domination, and Republicanism

Seminar Paper:

  • Being a Slave of the Community

Pre-seminar Readings:

  • Rereading Honneth: Exodus Politics and the Pardox of Recognition

  • David Walker and the Political Power of the Appeal

February 8, 2019: Kyle Whyte (Michigan State University)


Seminar: It's Too Late for Indigenous Justice: Problems with Urgency in Climate Change Advocacy 

I am a professor and environmental activist working at Michigan State University (MSU). My website features general information and links about my research and projects, drafts of my published and forthcoming articles and short essays (including the Indigenous science letter), teaching and research materials on #NoDAPL and Indigenous climate justice, and places where you can followmy updates.

My work focuses on the problems and possibilities Indigenous peoples face regarding climate change, environmental justice, and food sovereignty.

I participate in some great and unique programs at MSU that I encourage you to check out, including Philosophy, Community Sustainability, American Indian & Indigenous Studies, Environmental Science & Policy, Environmental Philosophy & Ethics and the Geocognition Research Lab.



Climate change activism and scientific assessments often emphasizes that humans must grasp the urgency of taking swift and decisive actions to address an environmental crisis. Yet many such conceptions of urgency obscure the factors that Indigenous peoples have called out as the most pressing concerns about climate justice. This obfuscation explains, in part, why climate change advocacy remains largely unrelated to Indigenous efforts to achieve justice and engage in decolonial actions. I will show why a politics of urgency can be based in assumptions about the relationship among time (temporality) and environmental change that are antithetical to allyship with Indigenous peoples. I will contrast the temporality of urgency with some Indigenous traditions of temporality that center moral qualities of kinship relationships, such as consent, trust and reciprocity, and suggest that such Indigenous traditions articulate crucial conditions for climate justice, moving forward.    

Seminar Presentation

  • It's Too Late for Indigenous Justice: Problems with Urgency in Climate Change Advocacy 

Pre-seminar Readings

  • TBA

January 18, 2019: Dean Spade (Seattle University)


Seminar: Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Mobilization and Survival

Dean Spade is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law, where he teaches Administrative Law, Poverty Law, Gender and Law, Policing and Imprisonment, and Law and Social Movements. Prior to joining the faculty of Seattle University, Dean was a Williams Institute Law Teaching Fellow at UCLA Law School and Harvard Law School.

In 2002, Dean founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. SRLP also engages in litigation, policy reform and public education on issues affecting these communities and operates on a collective governance model, prioritizing the governance and leadership of trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming people of color.

Dean's book, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law was published by South End Press in 2011. A second edition with new writing was published in 2015 by Duke University Press. Bella Terra Press published a Spanish edition in 2016.

In 2015, Dean released a one-hour video documentary, Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back!, which can be watched free online with English captions or subtitles in several languages.  

Dean's videosarticles, interviewsbook chapters, and syllabi are available on his website.

In the current political moment defined by worsening climate crisis, increased targeting of migrants, attacks on public benefits, expansive carceral control, rising housing costs, and growing white right wing populism, the left faces two particular challenges that, though not new, are urgent. The first is how to address the actual changing conditions that are shortening the lives of the most vulnerable people. The second is how to mobilize people who are affected and concerned. This essay argues that in the face of these conditions, expanding use of mutual aid strategies will be the most effective way to support vulnerable populations to survive, mobilize significant resistance, and build the infrastructure we need for the coming disasters. I argue that mutual aid is a powerful counter to the demobilizing frameworks for understanding social change and expressing dissent that dominate the popular imagination, and I examine the benefits of mutual aid, its challenges, and how those are being addressed by contemporary organizations mobilizing through mutual aid.

Seminar Presentation

  • Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Mobilization and Survival

Pre-seminar Readings

  • Normal Life
  • Now Is the Time for ‘Nobodies’: Dean Spade on Mutual Aid and Resistance in the Trump Era

November 9, 2018: Mark Antaki (McGill University)


Seminar: Legalities and Literacies


Mark Antaki is an Associate Professor of Law at McGill University’s Faculty of Law. He graduated from McGill in 1996 under the National Programme with a BCL and an LLB. He has a PhD in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. His doctoral thesis undertook a "Genealogy of Crimes Against Humanity." He is the co-editor of Sensing the Nation’s Law : Historical Inquiries into the Aesthetics of Democratic Legitimacy. He has published on such things as the turn to imagination in legal theory, the discourses of ‘values’ and ‘proportionality’ in constitutional law, the metaphor of the book in South Africa’s interim constitution, and Roland Barthes and the common law. His work often involves attending to language and the transformation of shorthand into keywords.



‘Legalities,’ an infrequently used term, points to the insight that law can be and can be lived in different ways, and sometimes goes by the name of ‘polyjurality’. ‘Literacy’ is usually taken to refer to the ability to read or write text and is narrowly associated with the alphabet but has recently undergone a massive expansion in sense, hence the plural ‘literacies.’ With this new and developing project, I wish to explore the relation between how ‘we’ live law and how we read and write, including how we read and write ourselves. More specifically, I seek to inquire into the significance of re-framing ‘law and literature’ as ‘legalities and literacies.’ I aim to ask whether and how such re-framing captures a trajectory of law and literature and what is at stake in humanistic legal scholarship, whether and how thinking in terms of legalities and literacies can contribute, or is even essential, to responding to the various calls to action of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whether and how thinking in terms of legalities and literacies can contribute to an approach to legal education that avoids second-class courses (introductory, legal research) and sidesteps traditional divides such as theory-practice.

Seminar Presentation:

  • Legalities and Literacies

Pre-seminar Readings:

  • Genre, Critique, and Human Rights

  • Declining Accusation

October 26 2018: Deva Woodly (New School)


Seminar: Black Feminist Vision and the Politics of Healing in the Movement for Black Lives 

The Movement for Black Lives (#BlackLivesMatter) has developed a political philosophy rooted in black feminist thought, which posits that it is only by centering the most marginalized that we will be able to imagine and enact just social practices and institutional/legal policies. This vision of "healing justice" inspires both the organizational practices and political action of the movement. To answer the interlocking structural oppression that the most marginalized face, movement actors begin by acknowledging that feelings are not the opposite of intellect and that care and affirmation are not only personal, but critically, political resources. In this paper I explore both the empirical impetus for this margin-to-center philosophy advocating healing justice and the theoretical and practical implications of basing a social movement's political philosophy on the treatment of trauma and the necessity of care. 

Deva Woodly is an Associate Professor of Politics at the New School. A former fellow of the Institute for Advances Study (2012-2013), she is the author of The Politics of Common Sense: How Social Movements Use Public Discourse to Change Politics and Win Acceptance (Oxford 2015). Her research covers a variety of topics, from media & communication, to political understandings of economics, to race & imagination, & social movements. In each case, she focuses on the impacts of public discourse on the political understandings of social and economic issues as well as how those common understandings change democratic practice and public policy. Her process of inquiry is inductive, moving from concrete, real-world conditions to the conceptual implications of those realities. In all cases, she centers the perspective of ordinary citizens and political challengers with an eye toward how the demos impacts political action and shapes political possibilities. Her current book projects are #BlackLivesMatter and the Democratic Necessity of Social Movements, an examination of the ways that social movements re-politicize public life in times of political despair and What We Talk About When We Talk About the Economy, a broad investigation of American economic discourse and its implications for politics and policy in the post-Great Recession era. 

Seminar Presentation:

  • Black Feminist Visions and the Politics of Healing in the Movement for Black Lives

Pre-seminar Readings:

  • Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Necessity of Social Movements

October 1, 2018: Lori Gruen (Wesleyan University)


Seminar: Resistance Self-Respect: Another Challenge for Liberalism

Lori Gruen is the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University where she coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies. She is also Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Science in Society. She is the author and editor of eleven books, including Ethics and Animals: An Introduction (Cambridge, 2011), The Ethics of Captivity (Oxford, 2014), and Entangled Empathy (Lantern, 2015) and the forthcoming Critical Terms for Animal Studies (2018) She is a Fellow of the Hastings Center for Bioethics and a Faculty Fellow at Tufts’ Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Animals and Public Policy and was the first chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Center for Prison Education at Wesleyan. Gruen has documented the history of The First 100 chimpanzees in research in the US and has an evolving website that documents the journey to sanctuary of the remaining chimpanzees in research labs The Last 1000.

Her research lies at the intersection of ethical theory, political philosophy, and social practice. She has written on a range of topics and her current projects include exploring ethical and political questions raised by captivity and carceral logics.

Seminar Presentation:

  • Resistance Self-Respect: Another Challenge for Liberalism

Pre-seminar Readings:

  • Robin Dillon, "Self-Respect: Moral, Emotional, Political"

  • Tommie Shelby, “Liberalism, Self-Respect, and Troubling Cultural Patterns in Ghettos”


March 23, 2018: Christopher Lebron (Johns Hopkins)


Seminar: The Duty To Imagine - Afrofuturism vs White Identity Narrative - Cancelled

Chris Lebron is Associate Professor of Philosophy. He specializes in political philosophy, social theory, the philosophy of race, and democratic ethics. His work has focused on bridging the divide between analytic liberalism and the virtue ethics tradition. His first book, The Color of Our Shame: Race and Justice In Our Time (OUP 2013) won the American Political Science Association Foundations of Political Theory First Book Prize. His second book The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of An Idea (OUP 2017) offers a brief intellectual history of the black lives matter social movement. Chris is at work on his third book, From A Human Point of View: Re-Imagining Racial Egalitarianism, which is a direct follow-up to The Color Of Our Shame, and explores the uses of imagination for attending to morally problematic racial attitudes that bolster racial inequality. Chris has written a number of articles and book reviews. He ha also been an active public intellectual, writing numerous times for The New York Times's philosophy column, The Stone and for Boston Review, in addition to other outlets.

Seminar Presentation

  • TBA

Pre-seminar Readings

February 2, 2018: Joel Bakan (UBC)


Seminar: The Corporation II

Joel Bakan writes and researches in the areas of Constitutional Law, socio-legal studies, legal theory and economic law.  He studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and served as Law Clerk in 1985 for Chief Justice Brian Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada.  He joined the Law Faculty in 1990 as Associate Professor after a year's visit from Osgoode Hall Law School, where he had been Assistant Professor since 1987.  Professor Bakan teaches Constitutional Law, Contracts, socio-legal courses and the graduate seminar.  He has won the Faculty of Law's Teaching Excellence Award twice and a UBC Killam Research Prize.

Seminar Presentation

Pre-seminar Readings

January 19, 2018: Julen Etxabe (University of Helsinki)


Seminar: Dialogism in the Courts: What’s in it for Law, Human Rights, and Democracy?

Julen Etxabe is docent in legal theory from the University of Helsinki and writes in the areas of legal and political theory, law and humanities, international human rights, and comparative constitutionalism. 

 As a Fulbright scholar, he completed his SJD at the University of Michigan Law School with James Boyd White. He has taught at the University of Michigan (2008-10) and at the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki since 2010. He was a research fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (2014-2017) and co-editor in chief of No-Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law and Justice from 2012 to 2017. 

 He is the author of The Experience of Tragic Judgment (Routledge 2013) and the editor of three other books, most recently Rancière and Law (Routledge 2018) and Cultural History of Law in Antiquity (Bloomsbury, forthcoming). His current book project entitled Judicial Dialogues and the Conversation of Democracy seeks to illuminate the adjudicatory practices of several high courts in the world through the Bakhtinian concept of dialogism. Beyond identifying a global shift towards increasingly dialogical forms of judgment, the book seeks to theorize how these changes are transforming inherited notions of legal reasoning, legal authority, human rights, and the rule of law more generally.

Seminar Presentation

Pre-seminar Readings

November 3, 2017: Barbara Arneil (UBC)


Seminar: Domestic Colonies and Colonialism vs Imperialism in Western Political Thought and Practice 

Barbara Arneil (PhD, London) is interested in the areas of identity politics and the history of political thought. As the author of John Locke and America (OUP, 1996) and many related articles, she has a specialization in the intersection between liberalism and colonialism. She is also interested in gender and political theory, publishing Feminism and Politics, Oxford Blackwell, 1999 (translated into Chinese and published by Oriental Press, 2005). In it she examines how gender shapes the definition and scope of ‘politics’. She has written a critique of social capital from the perspective of inclusive justice, entitled Diverse Communities: The Problem with Social Capital, Cambridge University Press, 2006 and has published a co-edited anthology entitled Sexual Justice/Cultural Justice, Routledge, 2006.
Her most recent work is in the areas of social trust and diversity, global citizenship and cosmopolitanism, the role of disability in political theory and domestic colonies. She has just published a co-edited book entitled Disability and Political Theory  with Cambridge University Press, 2016. Scholarly recognition includes the Harrison Prize (UK Political Studies Association award for best article published in Political Studies), Rockefeller Foundation Residential Fellowship in Bellagio Italy, shortlisted for the C.B. MacPherson Prize (Canadian Political Science Association award for best book published in political theory) UBC Peter Wall Early Career Scholarship and the UBC Killam Research Prize.

Seminar Presentation

Pre-seminar Readings

October 13, 2017: Orit Kamir (Israeli Center for Human Dignity)


Seminar: Escape from Dignity: The Honour Politics of Jihad, Social Media Shaming, and Trump.

Orit Kamir publishes, teaches and is socially active in three interdisciplinary areas: 1. Dignity, respect and honor as moral/ethical values, bedrocks of social structures, and foundations of legislation and policy making; 2. Law-and-Film: analysis of mutual influences of two powerful contemporary discourses, that have substantial impact on the creation and determination of individuals’ and societies’ forging of their self-perceptions and visions of their identities and futures; 3. Gender politics in societies, cultures and laws. She has authored six monographs and dozens of articles, mostly in these areas, in English and in Hebrew, and has taught in universities in Israel and the United States. She has participated in drafting legislation in Israel, and as founder and academic head of the center for human dignity in Israel she has worked with diverse audiences on implementing dignity and respect in daily life as well as institutional policy making. She earned her BA in law, philosophy and literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and her Masters and Doctorate in Law and Culture at the University of Michigan (under the supervision of the founder of Law and Literature, Prof. J. B. White). She is an active participant in Israel’s public discourse and a social activist in gender equality and human rights.

Seminar Presentation

Pre-seminar Readings

September 22, 2017: Leslie Green (Queens University)


Seminar: The Normativity of Law: What is the Problem?

Leslie Green is the Professor of the Philosophy of Law and Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He also holds a part-time appointment as Professor of Law and Distinguished University Fellow at Queen's. After beginning his teaching career at Lincoln College, Oxford, he moved to Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He has visited and taught at many other law faculties, including Berkeley, Columbia, NYU, Chicago and, for some years, at the University of Texas at Austin. He writes and teaches in the areas of jurisprudence, constitutional theory, and moral and political philosophy. He serves on the board of many journals and is co-editor of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law.

Seminar Presentation

Pre-seminar Readings


March 17, 2017: Avery Kolers (University of Louisville)

Avery Kolers

Seminar: The Territorial Rights of Animals: Zoopolis and Beyond

Avery Kolers is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Social Change minor at the University of Louisville. Since completing his PhD at the University of Arizona, he has published widely in the areas of social and political philosophy and applied ethics. His first book, Land, Conflict, and Justice: A Political Theory of Territory (CUP 2009) was awarded the Canadian Philosophical Association's Biennial Book Prize. He is also the author of A Moral Theory of Solidarity (OUP 2016).

Professor Kolers’ particular research interests include issues surrounding territorial rights and solidarity. These highly “applied” issues touch on a wide range of problems, but also raise hard questions about how to navigate deep diversity in a shared world. His 2009 book Land, Conflict, and Justice: A Political Theory of Territory (Cambridge University Press) won the Canadian Philosophical Association’s biennial book prize. More recently, his 2012 article “Floating Provisos and Sinking Islands” received the Journal of Applied Philosophy prize, awarded for “the best article published in the year’s volume.”

Currently, Professor Kolers is working on a book on solidarity and further articles on territorial rights. He has initiated a research project on the emergence of a discourse of indigenous title in the 16th-century Spanish Dominicans Francisco de Vitoria and Bartolomé de Las Casas as they grappled with the moral and political implications of the Encounter with the “new world.”

Seminar presentation:

  • The Territorial Rights of Animals: Zoopolis and Beyond

Pre-seminar readings:

  • Attachment to Territory: Status or Achievement? (primary reading)

  • Animals and the Frontiers of Citizenship (supplementary reading)

February 24, 2017: Patricia Williams (Columbia University)


Seminar: On rights and reality: from stated exceptions to states of exception

Professor Williams received her B.A., Wellesley, 1972 & J.D., Harvard, 1975. She practiced as deputy city attorney, Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney; and as staff lawyer, Western Center on Law and Poverty. She has served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin School of Law, City University of New York Law School, and Golden Gate University School of Law and has been at Columbia since 1991.

Professor Williams is fellow, at the School of Criticism and Theory, Dartmouth College, and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. She has published widely in the areas of race, gender, and law, and on other issues of legal theory and legal writing. Her books include The Alchemy of Race and RightsThe Rooster's Egg; and Seeing a ColorBlind Future: The Paradox of Race. Columnist, The Nation. MacArthur fellow. Board of Trustees, Wellesley College.

Seminar presentation:

  • Breeding, Or The New Black: On Fashioning Genetic Brand

Pre-seminar readings:

  • The Alchemy of Race and Rights

  • The Holman Rule Once Allowed Congress to Purge Leftists From Government Agencies—Now It’s Back

January 20, 2017: Brenna Bhandar (University of London)

Brenna Bhandar

Seminar: Racial Regimes of Ownership: Thinking Through Property with Cedric J. Robinson

Professor Bhandar’s current research project explores the relationship between racial formations and modern property law in settler colonial contexts. She examines articulations of race and ownership that emerge through the appropriation of Indigenous lands, drawing on a combination of critical theory, archival sources, and interviews in Canada, Australia and Israel/Palestine.

Professor Bhandar is co-editor (with Jon Goldberg-Hiller) of the book Plastic Materialities: Legality, Politics and Metamorphosis in the work of Catherine Malabou (Duke University Press, 2015). The contributions in this volume assess the political and philosophical implications of Malabou's innovative combination of poststructuralism and neuroscience across the disciplines of legal theory, sociology, literature and philosophy.

She is also co-editor of a special issue of Darkmatter Journal, "Reflections on Dispossession: Critical Feminisms" (2016, with Davina Bhandar). This collection traces a path for contemporary critiques of neoliberal capitalism and colonial dispossession. The authors show the compelling need for complex strategies and tools to evaluate the interlocking or intersectional practices of dispossession, and their particular effects on racialised, Indigenous, sexualized, and gendered subjects.

Lastly, Professor Bhandar is co-editor of the Routledge Book Series, Law and the Post-Colonial: Ethics, Politics & Economy, and has served on the editorial board of Feminist Legal Studies and the International Advisory Board of the Law and Society Review.

Seminar presentation:

  • Racial Regimes of Ownership

Pre-seminar readings:

  • Title by Registration

  • Disassembling Legal Form