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Past Critical Theory in Critical Times Workshops

2019-2020 Workshop

The White Leviathan: Nonwhite Bodies in the White Body Politic | A Conversation with Charles Mills

Friday, November 8, 2019
3:30pm - 6:30pm 

Harris 107, 1881 Sheridan Road, Evanston IL, Northwestern University

The 2019 Critical Theory in Critical Times annual series workshop will focus around the work of Charles Mills (Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at The Graduate Center, CUNY) and, in particular, his forthcoming book The White Leviathan: Nonwhite Bodies in the White Body Politic (under consideration by Oxford University Press). Charles Mills will discuss this work with four commentators: Lawrence Blum (University of Massachusetts, Boston), Michael Hanchard (University of Pennsylvania), José Medina (Northwestern), and Alvin Tillery (Northwestern).

Race, white privilege, white supremacy, racial justice—in recent years all these terms have become central to public discourse. The “post-racial society” delusions of the Obama years have long since been dispelled, with the rise of the alt-right and white nationalism, and the protests of “Black Lives Matter!” But mainstream political theory, descriptive and normative, faces a challenge. How do you theorize the workings of race, how do you develop principles of racial justice, when the official picture of the body politic is a raceless one and liberal accounts of social justice, Rawlsian and non-Rawlsian, generally ignore the history and legacy of white supremacy?

In his forthcoming book, The White Leviathan: Nonwhite Bodies in the White Body Politic, political philosopher Charles Mills argues that we need to rethink our conventional understandings of the American body politic, and, correspondingly, the principles of justice for regulating its workings. Using Thomas Hobbes’s famous image of LEVIATHAN as an artificial construct composed of multiple human bodies, he argues that we should draw on the black radical tradition of thinkers like W.E.B. Du Bois and recognize the “whiteness” of LEVIATHAN. Race is likewise an artificial construct that nonetheless becomes incorporated into the macro-body of the polity and the micro-bodies of its citizens. Ignoring the actual whiteness and coloniality of the Western polity’s time and space will then only entrench them further, as in Rawls’s illusive representation of a supposedly ideal society that whitewashes the actual history of American racial injustice and the need for corrective measures to deal with it.

This event is generously co-sponsored by The Center for Global Culture and Communication, Department of African American Studies, Department of Philosophy, Department of Political Science, Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, and Critical Theory Cluster.

Workshop Program & Schedule 

Reading Group for CTinCT Workshop 2019

Friday, November 1, 2019
6pm - 8pm
TGS Commons, room 140 in Seabury Hall, 2122 Sheridan Road, Evanston IL.

We invite faculty and graduate students to meet at least once, in advance of the November 8 workshop. Participants will be placed into groups based on chapter preferences. Each group will present their chapter during the reading group meeting. A copy of the book chapters and manuscript will be available to participants. If you would like to participate, please contact Sarah Peters at

2018-2019 CTCT Workshop: EXILE, STATELESSNESS, MIGRATION | A Discussion with Seyla Benhabib

Poster | Program


2016-2017 CTCT Workshop: A Discussion with Axel Honneth on Freedom's Right


2015-16 CTCT Workshop: Undoing the Demos. A Discussion with Wendy Brown


2014-15 CTCT Workshop: Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions. A Discussion with Hauke Brunkhorst

Poster     Program

May 2014: Inaugural Critical Theory in Critical Times Workshop: Keynote Address by Jürgen Habermas

Poster     Program

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