The Ethics Institute
of Utrecht University’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
seeks a researcher for a 4-year, full-time PhD project on ‘Resisting Class-based Domination’. The position is part of the VIDI project “Theorizing Freedom from Below”
under the supervision of Dorothea Gädeke.
Freedom is the opposite of slavery and domination – or so the republican tradition of political thought argues. Yet, theories of republican freedom rarely engage with actual slavery. Their focus rather lies on specifying the status of free citizens. Slavery merely serves as a metaphor for the condition that is to be avoided. This focus reflects the perspective of those who are concerned with safeguarding their existing freedom. But can such theories make sense of struggles to attain freedom? Can we fully understand what freedom means without the experience of resisting unfreedom, that is, of resisting existing forms of slavery or domination?
The research project ‘Theorizing freedom from below’ starts from the assumption that theorizing freedom in a way that gains a critical grip on the social world requires rethinking freedom from below; that is by shifting the focus from the lived experience of freedom to the lived experience of slavery and other forms of domination – and the struggles against it. The classic republican ideal of the free – i.e. white, male property-owning – citizen serves as a guide to select relevant struggles: starting in the late 18th century, we will analyse resistance against race-based, gender-based and class-based domination through the work of activists and writers not commonly part of the philosophical canon. This approach not only enriches the phenomenological basis of normative theories of freedom. It allows us to investigate conceptual, methodological, and practical questions: How are freedom and resistance linked? Why does it matter at all from whose perspective abstract normative concepts are theorized? And how does this perspective bear on the practical role of philosophical theories of freedom in reproducing – or overcoming – unfreedom?
The PhD project will focus on resistance against class-based domination. The aim is to investigate how the notion of slavery has been appropriated in labour movements to conceptualize class-based domination and what this entails for practices of resistance in bringing about freedom. Are workers subjected to conditions structurally akin to slavery? How is the material form of economic domination related to immaterial, cultural forms of domination that underpin chattel slavery? And how does this interplay of different forms of domination bear on individual and collective practices of resisting domination and gaining freedom?
In addition to conducting PhD research, the researcher will be expected to teach one course in the second and one course in the third year of the appointment.
The VIDI research group ‘Theorizing Freedom from Below’ is situated at the Ethics Institute
at Utrecht University’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
. With its enthusiastic and committed colleagues, the Ethics Institute offers a stimulating and international research environment in the historical city centre of Utrecht. The research group itself consists of the project leader, Dorothea Gädeke
, the successful candidate and a Post-Doc position that will be advertised later for an expected starting date in fall 2023. You are expected to play an active role both in the research group and the Ethics Institute. A generous conference travel budget is available to facilitate your participation in larger research networks.