Research

Questions that guide my thinking have always been about the relationship between history and politics from a critical theory tradition or perspective. I am a feminist political philosopher, and because I have expertise in Kant’s and Kantian thought, my research interests often (though not always) refer back to Kant, emphatically arguing for the necessity of both understanding his philosophical legacy better and going beyond it. In my view, Immanuel Kant is incontrovertibly one of the major architects of the modern world as we know it. So, when I turn to Kant’s writings, it is always to articulate the living history of his ideas and their enduring political force – that is, to show that his ideas are still in circulation, albeit in different areas and in myriad forms.

I have argued in the past that in locating Kant’s political philosophy we must not limit our attention to his ideal theory of cosmopolitanism; rather, part of Kant’s contemporary legacy for political thought is the very fact that he grasped and grappled with the fundamental relevance of history for political theorizing via his methodology of teleology; that a fuller account of the contemporary relevance of Kant’s political thought must include his writings on philosophy of history, cultural anthropology, and geography, under the umbrella of what I name as his “nonideal theory of politics.” Because of the overwhelming presence of Kantian concepts in our lives, my work aims to highlight the continuity and complicity between many of his ideas and our current socio-political issues and sensibilities. My wager is that philosophers will do a better job of both interpreting and changing the world when we attend to the undercurrents of Kantian ideals, together with their still-unfolding history in the present, from the scientific concept of race, to the Eurocentric idea of a world history and cultural productivity, and to the conditional hospitality of commercial rationality reigning in the Global North.

At the moment I am working on a number of writing projects that converge around a decolonial feminist perspective on what I call “a living history of political concepts”: I am completing an article dealing with Kant’s notions of Enlightenment, citizenship, and public sphere and what they mean from the perspective of Feminism for the 99%; I am writing on the role of “race” in social and political philosophy in Turkey (in Turkish, and in conversation with Charles W. Mills’s translated work); and I recently finished an “Introduction” for the updated version of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) entry on “Continental Feminism.” Lastly but most importantly, I am always thinking about what a feminist/decolonial/antiracist approach, orientation, or attitude demands of practices of philosophers, academics, teachers, and humans.