a blog about philosophy in public affairs

Author: Shuk Ying Chan

Shuk Ying Chan joined UCL’s Department of Political Science in 2023 as Lecturer in Political Theory. Prior to UCL, she was a Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College and the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University. She completed her PhD in political theory at Princeton University. She grew up in Hong Kong, and holds an MPhil in Political Theory and a BA in History and Politics from the University of Hong Kong.

An interview with Joseph Chan (Beyond the Ivory Tower series)

This is the latest interview in our Beyond the Ivory Tower series (you can read previous interviews here).

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Joseph Chan worked for three decades as Professor in the Department of Politics of Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. After Beijing’s crackdown on the 2019 protests in Hong Kong and the imposition of the National Security Law on Hong Kong in July 2020, he left Hong Kong for Taiwan. He now lives and works in Taipei as a distinguished research fellow at the Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, Academia Sinica. Throughout his career, Joseph was a public intellectual well-known to politicians, activists and ordinary citizens in Hong Kong, and played some roles in Hong Kong politics, including as a mediator between the government and student protestors in 2014. We talked about how he got into political theory, his work in integrating Confucian political philosophy with Western liberalism, the tensions and limits of being a public intellectual, and his recent interest in the ethics of violence and protest.

What is cultural decolonization?

In recent years, calls for cultural decolonisation have attracted renewed public attention. While there are many understandings of cultural decolonisation, I want to discuss one particular view (call it the agency approach) that draws on some ideas from the Martinican poet and anticolonial activist-thinker Aimé Césaire, and contrast it with a view (call it the authenticity approach) that many have found problematic.

On one understanding of cultural decolonisation, decolonisation is about recovering what is authentically non-Western, whether that consists of art, cultural practices, philosophical traditions, and/or knowledge. This authenticity approach to cultural decolonisation is often fraught with tension as efforts are spent on showing that something is indeed authentically non-Western—for example, showing that a musical tradition has somehow maintained its integrity as traditionally African, Chinese, etc.

Remembering Sunny Ade's feats as he clocks 74 | Premium Times Nigeria
Image: King Sunny Ade (Premium Times Nigeria)

How does the international order harm disadvantaged societies? A look at the practice of international investment

There’s a longstanding debate amongst students of global justice and within popular discourse about the extent to which the ‘international order’ harms populations in disadvantaged countries. While some scholars argue that international trade agreements are exploitative or unfair and otherwise fail to work to the most disadvantaged, others caution against over-attributing the causes of global poverty to external factors. Instead, it is often said, domestic corruption and poor governance are at least half the story.

It’s true that global poverty and underdevelopment have complex causes and no single solution. But even if domestic factors matter, the fact is that certain rules of the international order can constrain domestic institutions in ways that perpetuate the plight of disadvantaged populations. In other words, the relationship between the global order and the dire situations often faced by disadvantaged populations in the Global South may sometimes be one of indirect harm, and yet such harm is nonetheless morally significant. The international investment regime, as I have argued elsewhere and will discuss below, is a good case of this relationship.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén