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Political Theory from the Global South


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Concepts of Selfhood, Language and Thought, and at least one of the courses World Philosophies: China, World Philosophies: India, World Philosophies: Africa, World Philosophies: Middle East, OR including World Philosophies: Greek and Roman Antiquity, World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Ethics, Political Philosophy.

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including Griekse en Romeinse filosofie, History of Modern Philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, Analytische filosofie or Philosophy of Mind, OR including History of Modern Philosophy, History of Political Philosophy or Griekse en Romeinse filosofie, Ethiek, Politieke filosofie/Political Philosophy.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement and who have to complete an advanced seminar, to be selected from package D.


In this course you will learn about Political Theory from the Global South, with a special focus on African thinkers, but with comparative material from South America. The time frame of our interest lies in the twentieth-century, a time that was marked by colonial rule, decolonization, and the postcolonial experience. The historical decolonization was prepared by classical theorists such as Césaire and Fanon. Next we will see how early independence presidents such as Senghor, Nkrumah and Nyerere were also political theorists who developed different answers to the difficulties of building new nations. Looking back to traditional culture, finding a new consciousness and challenging world powers who are still of major economic influence – all these elements are present in their work as well as in that of revolutionary thinkers like Cabral and Sankara.

We will move on from the early independence age to later decades, where theoretical approaches and debates are less activist, and more academic, as in the analytic and continental approach (in the European sense) that played out among philosophers such as Wiredu, Menkiti and Gyekye who reacted to the communitarianism debate, and Derrida, who’s reflections on and dialogue with a text from Mandela. The course rounds off with special topics, comparing the issues and questions of postcolonial Africa to those in South America, looking into the popular concept of ubuntu and the forward looking current of African renaissance.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • African Political theory through time, and some South American theorists;

  • different responses in action and reflection on the colonial age;

  • different currents and approaches in modern African Political Thought.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • analyze and compare different theoretical approaches to politics in the postcolonial world, especially the African continent;

  • explain how these approaches differ from similar ones in standard (Euro-American) Political Thought;

  • reflect independently on the texts, approaches and real world problems and present these orally and in writing.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Participation (10%)

  • Presentation (30%)

  • Midterm essay (30%)

  • Final essay (30%)

Attendance is compulsory for all students. Missing one class is OK (but send me an email), missing two may be possible in exceptional circumstances but, missing three means ‘you are out’ of the course. Preparation for class is as critical as active participation. Non-participation counts as non-attendance for the seminar.

Students are expected to take an active part in the discussions. All are required to read the “core” text for each class. These readings will constitute the basis for the seminar. Supplementary readings will be offered in addition to the core readings of the day. These supplementary readings are for general knowledge and not compulsory.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (see above).


The resit consists of the final research paper (60%). The remainder of the course grade will be determined by the other weighted components. The grades for participation and presentations remain in place.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A full syllabus will be provided via Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is not possible for this course. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


This is a combined BA3 and MA course.

Please remember: plagiarism is strictly forbidden. Plagiarism is understood as presenting, intentionally or otherwise, someone else’s words, thoughts, analyses, argumentations, pictures, techniques, computer programmes, etc., as your own work. More information can be found here: