Research

I specialize in historical and contemporary political philosophy. My research is oriented by the two simultaneous goals: I want both to understand the extent to which Kantian-Enlightenment narratives continue to shape our lives today, and to find a way to break the hold of these provincial visions on our present. I am currently writing a number of essays on political freedom, collated in work that I tentatively call “Reframing Freedom.” These interdisciplinary humanistic writings converge around Black, intersectional, and decolonial feminist themes and traditions, taking on liberal conceptions of political freedom.

Most recently, I translated, from Turkish to English, a story-essay by Nurhayat Altun; it is forthcoming in a collection entitled The Purple Color of Kurdish Politics: Women Politicians Write from Prison (Pluto Press). I also published a number of articles on the legacy of Charles Mills’s “Black Radical Kantianism” for Kant studies (in Kantian Review) and contemporary political theory (forthcoming in Radical Philosophy Review). I also co-authored an article (with Jordan Pascoe), entitled, “Kant and Feminist Political Thought, Redux” that re-assesses Kant’s notions of Enlightenment, citizenship, and public sphere from Black, intersectional, decolonial, and materialist feminist perspectives (forthcoming in Palgrave German Idealism and Feminism Handbook). I wrote the “Introduction” for and co-edited the updated version of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) entry on “Continental Feminism.”

My previous work engaged with the mainstream figures, traditions, and concepts in contemporary political theory such as liberalism, Kantianism, and cosmopolitanism. My first book, Kant’s Nonideal Theory of Politics (2019) brings the insights of critical philosophy of race as well as those of feminist, and decolonial thinkers to bear on the contemporary conversations taking place among Kant scholars and political theorists. I argued that we are misled when we limit our attention solely to Kant’s ideal theory of cosmopolitanism; rather, part of Kant’s contemporary legacy for political thought today is the very fact that he grasped and grappled with the fundamental relevance of history for political theorizing, via his teleological method. Thus, I show 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 named his “nonideal theory of politics.”

By laying out complementary theories of a political history, anthropology, and geography, Kant’s nonideal theory elaborates on who matters to historical progress, who counts as human, or whose activities constitute proper human culture. As a contribution to Kant Studies, this systematic argument transforms how we ought to think of Kant’s and Kantian political thought today: we see that a Eurocentric, white supremacist, and cisheteropatriarchal nonideal theory articulates the underlying epistemic and ontological agreements of Kant’s ideal political vision.

In my view, Immanuel Kant is incontrovertibly one of the major architects of the modern world as we know it. Because of this overwhelming presence of Kantian frames of thought 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. As a part of my interest in the relationship between history and politics from a critical theory tradition or perspective, my wager has always been that political 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.