April 29, 2019: Presenting at the Practical Philosophy Colloquium, Freie Universität in Berlin.

I'll be presenting a piece from my new project:

Self-and-Other-Determination: Conceptualizing Popular Sovereignty under and after Empire


This paper develops W. E. B. Du Bois’s notion of democratic despotism to illustrate the entanglement of popular sovereignty and empire and theorize how features of this formation remain today. Democratic despotism implies that—in Western democracies at the turn of the century—popular sovereignty was an impulse to partake of the wealth and resources obtained by empire. In this sense, rather than a self-contained unit, Western democracies issued a claim to determine themselves (democratically), as well as others (despotically), i.e., what I call “self-and-other-determination. I frame this question within the literature on empire and engage the writings of Du Bois and Saidiya Hartman to conceptualize how certain forms of affective attachment allow citizens past and present to restrict democratic concern to a limited community, whose wealth relies on imperial relations of oppression. I discuss the absence of these questions in the literature on self-determination and, in concluding, reflect on some implications of my framework for the contemporary rise of right-wing populism.