Postcolonial Global Justice (under contract with Princeton University Press) 

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.

"Expropriation as Reparation", American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming.

With some recent exceptions, demands for global reparations have largely been ignored by former colonial countries. While the past two decades has seen renewed interest in colonial reparations in normative political theory and philosophy, this work has focused on determining responsibility for redress. By contrast, relatively little has been said on the further question of how redress might be sought in face of persistent colonial amnesia and apologia. This paper defends expropriation—unilateral public takeovers of ownership and/or control of foreign assets—as a justified response to overdue colonial reparations. In making this case, the paper (1) moves our focus beyond questions of responsibility for reparative justice to consider what victims of past injustice (and/or their descendants) are justified in doing to obtain their due, and (2) explores distinctive issues that arise for political resistance at the global level.

"What's Wrong with Neocolonialism: The Case of Unequal Cultural Trade", American Political Science Review (with Alan Patten), 2023 [online view]

Unequal patterns of cultural exchange between the Global South and North are sometimes labelled “neo-colonial.” But what, if anything, is wrong with these patterns? Debates surrounding cultural globalization have traditionally divided proponents of free trade and of cultural preservation. The paper develops an alternative account grounded in a global application of the ideal of social equality. Citizens of privileged societies ought to regard and relate to citizens of disadvantaged societies as social equals. Patterns of cultural exchange play an important role in promoting these relationships. Historically, colonized peoples were often regarded as inferior based on perceived failures to produce cultural achievements. To the extent that unequal global cultural production and exchange persists, the colonial pattern remains. The duty to relate to foreigners as equals implies that Global North countries should stop pressing for cultural trade concessions and instead favor the import of cultural goods from the Global South. 

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.