Postcolonial Global Justice (book manuscript)

Decolonization as a historical event is over. As a political project, however, it is far from accomplished. Not only do we live in a world marked by many unaddressed legacies of colonial oppression, but global politics continue to feature hierarchies that resemble colonial relations. While many formerly colonized peoples are now members of independent nation-states, there have been persistent charges of global political domination, economic exploitation, and cultural imperialism against global actors old and new. The sun may have set on the British Empire, but not on empire itself.

This book draws on Third World anticolonial thought to develop a view of global justice aimed at resisting and overcoming the neo-colonial present. The book engages with writings from four influential anticolonial thinkers and activists: Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah, and Jawaharlal Nehru. In contrast with mainstream understandings of decolonization as attaining national self-determination, I trace within these thinkers a deeper concern with structural hierarchy and a vision of decolonization that emphasizes relations of equality. Based on this reconstruction of decolonization as egalitarian transformation, the book develops a view of global justice that takes social equality as its central value and applies it to three aspects of contemporary world politics: international investment, undemocratic global governance, and global cultural and knowledge production. In each, I demonstrate that racial hierarchies of domination and exploitation ground remedial rights to collective empowerment for marginalized populations across the world.

Bringing together anticolonial political thought and analytic political theory/philosophy, this book shows that addressing today’s pressing global problems requires us to take seriously the legacies of European colonialism and the urgency of resisting neocolonialism—to take on the task of a postcolonial global justice.

On The International Investment Regime: A Critique From Equality(Politics, Philosophy & Economics, May 2021)

The international investment regime has come under increasing scrutiny, with several developing countries withdrawing from bilateral investment treaties in recent years. A central worry raised by critics is that investment treaties undermine national self-determination. Proposed reforms to the regime have focused on rebalancing the distribution of power between states and investors to restore “enlarged regulatory space” for the former. Contra this critique from national self-determination, in this paper I argue that infringements on national self- determination cannot alone explain why the investment regime is morally problematic. Instead, on my egalitarian view, the regime is objectionable because it empowers a class of agents, whose interests are reliably opposed to egalitarian economic policy, to constrain national self-determination. In effect, the investment regime contributes to entrenching inequality between and within states, and is unjust for that reason. The moral and practical upshot is that reforms to the regime ought to empower disadvantaged groups to exert disproportionate leverage over the terms and practice of international investment, and to appeal to global institutions to do so. In other words, our moral assessment of a given global institution or practice should not depend on whether it constrains national self-determination, but on who it empowers to do so.