Sankar Muthu

Sankar Muthu
Ph.D., Harvard, 1998

Major Areas of Interest:

- Political Theory
- History of Political Thought

Selected Publications:

-Enlightenment Against Empire (Princeton University Press, 2003)
-"Adam Smith's Critique of International Trading Companies: Theorizing 'Globalization' in the Age of Enlightenment," Political Theory 36 (2008)
-"Diderot's Theory of Global (and Imperial) Commerce: An Enlightenment Account of 'Globalization'" in Colonialism and Its Legacies, ed. Jacob T. Levy with Iris Marion Young, (Lexington Books, 2011)
-"Conquest, Commerce, and Cosmopolitanism in Enlightenment Political Thought" in Empire and Modern Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
-"Productive Resistance in Kant's Political Thought: Domination, Counter-Domination, and Global Unsocial Sociability" in Kant and Colonialism, eds. Katrin Flikschuh and Lea Ypi (Oxford University Press, 2014)
-"On the General Will of Humanity: Global Connections in Rousseau's Political Thought" in The General Will: The Evolution of a Concept, eds. James Farr and David Lay Williams (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

Phone: (773) 702-8059
Office: Pick 515

Sankar Muthu is Associate Professor of Political Science. His research and teaching interests include Enlightenment political, social, and moral theories (including French, German, Scottish, and English writings of the 18th century) and their diverse historical and contemporary legacies; modern theories of international justice, political economy, commerce, sociability, communication, cultural pluralism, and cosmopolitanism; the modern intellectual history of conceptualizing and analyzing inhumanity and degradation; and historic debates about conquest, slavery, and just war. He has written about thinkers such as Rousseau, Diderot, Raynal, Adam Smith, Kant, and Herder. He has held fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The author of Enlightenment Against Empire (Princeton University Press), he is also the editor of (and contributor to) Empire and Modern Political Thought (Cambridge University Press). He is currently writing a book (Global Connections in Enlightenment Thought, under contract to Princeton University Press) about Enlightenment-era philosophical analyses of emerging global connections (such as travel, trade, and exchange) and transcontinental institutions (including joint stock trading companies and networks of slavery and slave-produced goods).

Recent / Forthcoming Presentations of Research (selected):


Princeton University; conference on “Polemical Literature in the Age of Revolutions”
Columbia University: Political Theory Workshop
Leiden University, The Netherlands: conference on the theme “Between Deliberation and Agonism: Rethinking Conflict and its Relation to Law in Political Philosophy”
American Political Science Association conference, San Francisco
Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands: 14th Quadrennial International
Congress of the Enlightenment and Eighteenth-Century Studies, roundtable on
“The Global Eighteenth Century, Colonial Markets, and the Making of European Identities”
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin: conference on “Historical Injustice”


University of Oregon: conference on "Colonial Exchanges: Ideas, Agency, and the Experiences of Colonialism"
NYU: conference at the Center for European & Mediterranean Studies
Yale University: conference on commerce in the history of political thought
Universität Hamburg: conference on "Kant and republicanism"


Huntington Library (Los Angeles) and Clark Library (UCLA): conference on "Cosmopolitanism and the Enlightenment" in honour of Anthony Pagden
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen: conference on "Global Enlightenment"
Université de Paris, Ouest Nanterre: conference on Diderot's political thought and its legacies on the occasion of the tercentenary of Diderot's birth
John Cabot University (Rome, Italy): plenary lecture at a conference on "Conflict and Cosmopolitanism"
London School of Economics: Forum in Legal and Political Theory
Harvard University: Intellectual History Colloquium


Washington University: Political Theory Workshop
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt: conference on "Domination Across Borders"
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris: two lectures
Brandeis University: lecture for workshop on "Enlightenment political thought and its critics"


University of Oxford: keynote lecture at a conference on Kant and colonialism
Australian National University: keynote lecture at a conference on "Thinking the Human in the Era of Enlightenment"
University of Wisconsin at Madison: Political Theory Workshop
University of King's College (Halifax, Canada): lecture for the Early Modern Studies Programme
Princeton University: University Center for Human Values special colloquium on the relationship between history and moral/political philosophy
University of Sydney: lecture at Mellon Foundation Seminar on "Atlantic Justice in the Pacific World: Property, Rights and Indigeneity"
Yale University: conference on "Colonialism and European Identities"


NYU-Yale University: joint conference on "Empire of Political Economy"
Johns Hopkins-School of Advanced International Studies (Washington, D.C.): South Asia Seminar
Northwestern University: Long Nineteenth Century Workshop
University of Wisconsin-Madison: conference in honour of Patrick Riley
Free University of Bolzano (Italy): keynote lecture at a conference on "The Relations between Imperium and Liberal Values, Globalization and Tolerance"
Canadian Political Science Association conference, Vancouver
Folger Institute-Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C.: conference on "British Political Thought in an Age of Globalization, c. 1750-1800"
University of California at Riverside: John L. Stanley Lecture
Johns Hopkins University: conference in honour of J.G.A. Pocock