Machine translation without proofreading

No teaching in winter semester 2022/23 and summer semester 2023

In the academic year 22/23, I am researching as fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies and therefore do not offer any courses.

I have no regular office hours during this time. Please make an individual appointment by email.

No teaching in summer semester 2022

During the summer semester of ‘22, I will be conducting research as a fellow at the Weizenbaum Institute in Berlin and therefore will not be offering seminars.

My office hours will not be held regularly during this time. Please make an individual appointment via email.

Struggles about academic freedom and freedom of expression (Winter Term 2021/22, MA)

We are currently experiencing a controversial political debate about the (alleged) restrictions on freedom of speech and science. Under the keywords “Cancel Culture” and “Political Correctness”, mostly conservative actors criticize that the possibilities of what can be said and researched would become more and more restricted. The Network for Scientific Freedom has concretized the general debate about freedom of expression with regard to scientific freedom and lists a number of cases in which scientific freedom has been unjustifiably restricted. The seminar serves to reflect on this debate with the aim of developing a critical theory of academic freedom that, on the one hand, takes into account the need to improve plurality in science by re-regulating privileges in a discrimination-critical way and, on the other hand, to preserve the plurality of scientific approaches. The focus is on the differentiations of freedom of opinion and freedom of science, of different aspects of freedom of science (e.g., personal and systemic), of objectivist and critical science, and the differentiation and structural coupling of science and politics. Specific questions of current controversies on which the seminar develops arguments include: Is it justified to call in an open letter for the disinvitation of Kathleen Stock from an academic conference, who is a philosophical activist against trans* rights? (How) should a seminar be protested in which Rainer Wendt (police unionist who regularly attracts attention with politically right-wing statements) is invited as a discussant? Should a philosophical research project that aims to justify that homosexual acts are immoral be denied scientificity, even though it is conducted by respected representatives of the discipline?

In addition to these questions of (alleged) restriction of academic freedom, both the current debate and the seminar are concerned with an analysis of plurality from a student’s point of view: are trigger warnings harmful? Is there such a thing as a “left-wing hegemony” in some subjects, leading to politically one-sided discourses, as claimed in a recent study? Is a seminar even the place for “viewpoint pluralism” - that is, simple openness to all political (and non-scientific) positions - as suggested in this study, or is it rather a matter of discussing within the framework of specific scientific theories? In short, what does freedom of expression and academic freedom mean for students? Another level is to discuss other ways in which academic freedom is restricted: by a lack of diversity in universities, by fixed-term contracts and dependent employment, by third-party funding for political control of research, and by direct state intervention against specific theories (as recently in France under the slogan “Islamo-Gauchisme,” in the U.S. against Critical Race Theory, and in Germany regarding BDS).

An introductory session on current controversies is followed by a second part on the theoretical foundations of academic freedom. After that we will look at the legal and political situation in Germany and the discussion about restrictions on German campuses. The fourth part deals with two controversies (TERF, trigger warnings). The last session is dedicated to critical discussion of selected individual cases that have been scandalized in the past.

  1. Introduction, 19.10.2021
  2. Current controversies, 26.10.2021
  3. Sociological Foundations: Systems Theory, 09.11.2021
  4. Power and Discourse: Foucault, 16.11.2021
  5. Normativity and Objectivity: Critical Theory, 23.11.2021
  6. Normativity and Objectivity: Standpoint Theory, 11/30/2021
  7. Civil disobedience: radical theory of democracy, 07.12.2021
  8. Situation in Germany: Legal Framework, 12/14/2021
  9. Situation in Germany: Failed democratization of the professorial university, 21.12.2021
  10. Situation in Germany: Freedom on Campus?, 11.01.2022
  11. Controversies: TERFs, 18.01.2022
  12. Controversies: Critique of Critical Theory, 21.01.2022
  13. Controversies: Trigger Warnings, 01.02.2022
  14. Discussion of individual cases, feedback, 08.02.2022

Identity Politics (Winter Term 2021/22, BA, in English)

Disputes about identity politics shape contemporary political debates. The term “identity politics” was coined in the late 1970s by Black feminists in the United States, where it refers to the political practice of a social group that makes its specific experience of oppression the starting point of resistant politics. Since then, the concept has been used in the struggles for emancipation of various social groups and has been discussed controversially, especially in feminist and postcolonial theory. As a result of the rise of right-wing populist movements and political polarizations in the 2010s, identity politics has become a topic of discussion and criticism among the broader public as well as in the entire social sciences. In these current debates, identity politics is often criticized as separationist and anti-democratic. In view of this topicality, the seminar aims at developing a more nuanced notion of identity politics, engaging with texts in the diversity of identity politics is negotiated with greater complexity than is the case in the current heated debates on identity politics.

The first section asking „What is identity politics” is followed by a section examining current conservative and left-wing criticism against identity politics. The next three sections deal with one contemporary controversy each, discussing identity politics and class politics, struggles about trans* politics, and the metaphysics and politics of race.

  1. Introduction, 20.10.2021
  2. What is Identity Politics?, 27.10.2021
  3. What is Identity Politics?, 03.11.2021
  4. Current Critics: Fukuyama & Fraser, 10.11.2021
  5. Current Defenses, 17.11.2021
  6. Controversies 1: Class and Identity Politics, Fraser, Redistribution/Recognition, 24.11.2021
  7. Controversies 1: Class and Identity Politics, Alcoff contra Fraser, 01.12.2021
  8. Controversies 1: Bohrer Intersectionality/Marxism, 08.12.2021
  9. Controversies 2: Trans and TERF, 15.12.2021
  10. Controversies 2: Trans and Race, 22.12.2021
  11. Colloquium with Gen Eickers, 12.01.2022
  12. Controversies 3: Race, 19.01.2022
  13. Controversies 3: Race, 26.01.2022
  14. Colloquium with Daniel James, 02.02.2022
  15. Workshop on Essays, Feedback, 09.02.2022

HS Standpoint Theories (Summer Term 2021 / Online)

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, MA Political Science

Standpoint theories argue that our knowledge in certain areas depends on our social position. They are the philosophical basis of political critiques that argue with reference to social position, such as anti-racist or feminist critiques. Central to this is exposing as particular the hegemonic perspective of the culture of dominance, which sees itself as universally valid, and showing how much remains obscured from its gaze. Epistemically privileged, on the other hand, i.e. in a position to better evaluate a situation, are those who are themselves affected by social grievances. On the one hand, standpoint theories are an indispensable means of contemporary criticism and critical political theory; on the other hand, they are highly controversial. In current feuilletonistic culture wars, tempers flare over metaethical questions about the possibility or impossibility of universalist positions and the potential danger of relativism emanating from standpoint theories, as well as over questions of content. And even within the theoretical left there are warnings against a “positional fundamentalism” (Villa Braslavsky), i.e. an equation of possibilities of thought with social position. Against this background, the seminar serves as an intensive, philosophical and critical examination of the various schools of standpoint theories. Starting with feminist standpoint theory, through intersectional positions and recent debates around epistemic injustice and critical whiteness, to the postcolonial critique of Eurocentric universalism, we will probe the field. The readings will always focus on the question to what extent the respective standpoint theory is informative for today’s post-democratic situation and can contribute to a “democratization of democracy”. The goal of the seminar is for students to develop their own systematic position on the problems discussed in the seminar and to elaborate it in the term paper as a scholarly contribution to a current debate.

  1. Introduction
  2. Sandra Harding
  3. Nancy Hartsock
  4. Patricia Hills Collins
  5. Donna Haraway
  6. Sandra Harding
  7. Charles Mills
  8. Miranda Fricker
  9. José Medina
  10. Shannon sullivan
  11. Olúfémi táíwò
  12. Walter Mignolo
  13. Colloquium session with Hilkje Charlotte Hänel

HS Identity and Representation in Radical Democratic Theory (Summer Term 2021 / Online)

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, MA Political Science

Radical democratic theory steps in to correct the blind spots of hegemonic liberal or deliberative democratic theory. The liberal school sees the political as determined by rational processes of negotiation and is concerned with the most universalistic possible justification of democratic institutions. The radical theory of democracy is different: It assumes that the political is essentially a power struggle. It understands the political as contested and based on contingent foundations, and existing institutional orders as necessarily particularistic. Accordingly, political order is the result of antagonistic disputes; it is the order of the victors, which is therefore always inclusive for some and exclusive for others. A universalist position can therefore never be achieved, but both orders and their normative justifications must remain particular. For radical democratic theory, therefore, democracy and politics are not about negotiation within existing democratic institutions, but about the radical critique of the institutional order and its exclusions, with the aim of making it more inclusive. Radical democratic theory sees these resistant processes as fundamental for the deepening and maintenance of democracy - consequently: for the democratization of democracy. Yet in current research of radical democratic theory, two aspects of the democratization of democracy are hardly addressed: On the one hand, the emergence of political subjectivity in identity politics projects, through which resistant movements become possible in the first place; on the other hand, the representation of movements in the political public sphere and established institutions, which seems to be crucial for the success of democratization efforts. The seminar asks about the systematic connection of these two poles within radical democratic theory. In doing so, it will explore the hypothesis that particular identity politics is necessary for the democratization of democracy. This is also an intervention in current debates about “identity politics”, which today is mostly claimed that its particularity corrodes the common solidary we or reasonable democratic deliberation - and thus democracy. For this we read central authors of radical democratic theory, who stand for different varieties: With Laclaus and Mouffe’s “Hegemony and Radical Democracy” we enter the discussion. With Claude Lefort, we get to know a tendency toward a liberal variety of radical democracy and examine the significance of political institutions and representation in it. Jacques Rancière, on the other hand, is the most important representative of an anarchist variety of radical democracy. Ernesto Laclau’s recent work on left populism, on the other hand, argues that taking power in state institutions is important for radical democracy. Last, we engage with Etienne Balibar on the importance of citizenship for the democratization of democracy. After this study section, we have four sessions in which experts on different varieties of radical democracy are guests in the seminar, with each of whom we discuss a text in colloquium format.

  1. Introduction
  2. Laclau/Mouffe
  3. Lefort 1
  4. Lefort 2
  5. Rancière
  6. Laclau 1
  7. Laclau 2
  8. Balibar 1
  9. Balibar 2
  10. Colloquium with Kolja Möller
  11. Colloquium with Benjamin Opratko
  12. Colloquium with Manon Westphal

No teaching in winter semester 2020/21

The winter semester 2020/21 is a research semester for me. At the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Bielefeld, I will devote myself to thinking, discussing and writing about current anti-genderism in the working group Global Contestations of Women’s and Gender Rights. Conservatives and right-wing groups around the world try to fight against the rights of women and queers and to dismantle gender studies. We develop new resources of resistance against it.

More information:

I look forward to seeing you again, when I am back teaching in Freiburg in the summer semester!

You can still write BA and MA thesis with me during my research leave. All supervision is done via zoom.

Online Office Hours in the Corona Semester, Summer 2020

Dear Students,

From 5.5. onwards my office hours are every Tuesday from 12h30 to 13h30.

Attention: Registration only via Calendly. Please do not send any emails with appointment requests!

Note on translation

The texts on this page were automatically translated by deepl and not proofread. Only the text of the ‘Queer and Gay Male Theory’ and the ‘Introduction to Ethics/Philosophy’ seminar at FIT was written in English.

Liberalism and its Critique, 2020 (summer semester / online)

Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, MA Political Science

The seminar serves to discuss the critique of political liberalism, which is the core business of critical theory of all kinds. The critique of liberalism is put forward on a continental scale by both French (the tradition of “political difference” and “the political”) and Frankfurt (Honneth, Jaeggi), as well as in the American debate on communitarianism (Taylor, Sandel) and a new liberal Aristotelism (Nussbaum). At the centre of these debates is the relationship between law and politics and the question of the extent to which individual subjectivity and ’the private’ should be included by a political theory - and what normative claims on and interventions in the subjectivity of individuals (for example through specific political education programmes) are necessary or justified. Liberalism is criticized for blanking out subjectivity, dependence and neediness by a purely negative concept of freedom and an atomistic social ontology related to it. Thus liberalism ideologically petrifies the existing conditions. In recent years, this debate has been given new topicality by Christoph Menke’s critique of law, who radically formulates the criticism of liberal subjective rights.

But is it really true that liberalism resorts to a purely atomizing social ontology and is unable or (for political reasons) unwilling to consider subjectivation - that is, the social constitution of subjectivity? And how convincing are the concepts of freedom and subjectivity presented by critics of liberalism as an alternative? In the seminar we will explore these questions through contrasting readings of selected texts of liberalism and critiques of liberalism. It begins with an introductory part in which we will deal with the central systematic concept of debate - freedom - and differentiate the concepts of negative, positive and social freedom. The second part is devoted to the US-American debate between Rawlsian liberalism and communitarian criticism. In the third part, we analyze the German debate between Habermas’ Kantianism and Honneth’s and Jaeggis’s Hegelianism with regard to the similarities and differences to the US-American debate. This selection of texts and the method of comparing theories on similar systematic problems aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the basic problems of political theory negotiated here, which also helps them to work independently on other varieties of liberalism criticism.


  1. Introduction, 13.05.2020

Part 1: Concepts of freedom

  1. Negative freedom (Berlin), 20.05.2020
  2. Positive freedom (Taylor), 27.05.2020
  3. Social freedom (Neuhouser), 03.06.2020

Part 2: The US debate

  1. Rawls’ universalist liberalism, 10.06.2020
  2. Rawls’ political liberalism, 17.06.2020
  3. Sandel’s Communitarianism, 24.06.2020
  4. Taylor’s Communitarianism, 01.07.2020

Part 3: The German debate

  1. Habermas’ Kantianism, 08.07.2020
  2. Habermas’ legal theory, 15.07.2020
  3. Honneth’s Socialism, 22.07.2020
  4. Jaeggis’s Forms of Life, 29.07.2020

Foundations of Political Theory, 2020 (summer semester / online)

Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, BA Political Science

The seminar introduces contemporary political theory by reading representative texts of key authors. It is systematically divided into two parts: the liberal tradition and critical political theory.

The first part serves to study central texts of political liberalism, which is the hegemonic political doctrine in the Western world. Here, we will get to know normative political theory as a social discourse of self-reflection and legitimization, and discuss different methods of establishing normative theories. We focus on the concept of freedom (Berlin), modern contract theory (Rawls), the needs and capabilities of people (Nussbaum), and reason in the democratic public sphere (Habermas).

The second part is devoted to critical political theory. Here political theory is understood less as a normative legitimation of the existing than as a diagnosing critique of society and politics. Responding to the social question that arose in the 19th century, the young social sciences developed systematic approaches to the analysis and critique of social pathologies. We discuss the manifold methods of critique that introduce historical, economic, epistemological, sociological, socio-ontological and psychological arguments into political theory. The objects of critique are capitalism (Marx), subject (Freud), science (Horkheimer/Adorno), power (Foucault), love and sexuality (Luhmann) and colonialism/postcolonialism (Mbembe). With Marx, Freud, Adorno, and Horkheimer, we read authors who are among the cornerstones of critical political theory today. Luhmann’s and Foucault’s sharp analyses of social systems and the effects of power respectively stand for critical methods that do not require the development of clear normative positions and that have become widely used in contemporary political theory. Mbembe’s analyses of colonialist thought continue the criticism of Enlightenment universalism in the context of globalism.


  1. Introduction, 12.05.2020

Part 1: The contemporary hegemony of liberalism

  1. Negative and positive freedom: Isaiah Berlin’s anti-paternalism, 19.05.20
  2. Legitimation of Western democracy: John Rawls’ liberalism, 26.05.20
  3. Human needs and capabilities: Martha Nussbaum’s liberal Aristotelism, 02.06.20
  4. Communicative Reason and Rule of Law: Jürgen Habermas’ deliberative theory of democracy, 09.06.20

Part 2: Political theory as social criticism

  1. Exploitation under capitalism: Karl Marx’ historical materialism, 16.06.20
  2. Disenchantment of consciousness: Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis, 23.06.20
  3. The totality of the wrong: Adorno and Horkheimer’s Critique of Modernity, 30.06.20
  4. Love in the gears of society: Luhmann’s systems theory, 07.07.20
  5. The normalization of sexuality: Foucault’s power analysis, 14.07.20
  6. Colonial condemnation: Achille Mbembe’s Postcolonial Critique, 21.07.20
  7. Discussion of homework and feedback, 28.07.20

Foucault as contemporary political thinker, 2019/20 (winter term)

Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, MA Political Science

Even 30 years after his death, Foucault is one of the most quoted political thinkers of the present. His thinking has influenced the themes and methods of all disciplines dealing with politics. Many of Foucault’s problematizations are based on current theoretical debates and political struggles. From the analysis of contemporary capitalism, the development of gender-sensitive educational plans, the debate on bioethics, to the analysis of right-wing populist “post-truth” discourses - Foucault’s thinking plays a central role. But precisely because Foucault’s figures of thought are so widespread and have equally entered the repertoire of political thought without direct reference to his works, his influences in these various areas are often not explicit. Foucault’s work lies not only in the background of current political debates, but can still inform and correct them today. However, this can only be achieved by explaining its meaning. The seminar has the double aim of uncovering Foucault’s influences on current political problematizations and developing corrections to them by returning to Foucault.

The seminar is designed as a research seminar and aims to enable students in groups to develop theses on the connection between Foucault and current political problematizations through independent research. To create the basis for this, the first, long part of the seminar is dedicated to the reading of central texts by Foucault. In a second, shorter part, we then discuss student research projects on individual as-aspects of Foucault’s political topicality that they have developed in the meantime. The research projects presented in the session are the result of research teamwork during the semester and, like a research proposal, are intended to create a framework for individual projects that have already been concretized in the proposal and that students will realize in their term papers during the lecture-free period.


  1. Introduction
    Part 1: Reading Foucault
  2. History of Madness
  3. Order of Things
  4. Archaeology of Knowledge
  5. Order of Discourse
  6. Discipline and Punish
  7. Discipline and Punish
    8 Lectures on Governmentality I
    9th Lectures on Governmentality II
  8. Will to Knowledge
  9. Late work on Antiquity: Ethics, aesthetics of existence and parrhesia
  10. Foucault’s reflections on his critical project
    Part 2: Research projects on Foucault as a contemporary political thinker
  11. Marx Group
  12. Nietzsche Group
  13. Freud Group

The following problem areas are available as topics for the groups:

  1. “Post-Truth”? Knowledge orders, discourses and power
  2. From racism to pharmaceutization: biopolitics
  3. Capitalism and Human Leadership Today: Disciplines and Governmentality
  4. The beginning of the fight for sex: Saint Foucault and the Queer Theory
  5. Activism today: a Foucauldian view of current debates on racism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia and homophobia

Queer and Gay Male Theory (taught in English), 2019/20 (winter term)

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, BA Politikwissenschaft

This class is an introduction into queer and gay male theory. We will read classic and canonic texts as well as more recent and innovative works, mostly by U.S. American scholars. The class aims at making students familiar with the central discussions, concepts and problems of queer and gay male theory and enabling them to engage in contemporary debates in the field. While coming from a political and epistemological perspective located in queer studies (roughly understood difference to classical gay and lesbian studies), it puts particular emphasis on gay male subjectivity, sexuality and politics.

The first block, Normalization, covers the foundations of queer thinking: the analysis and cri-tique of normalization of sex and sexuality. The central strategy to deal with this normalization is covered in the second block, Queer Liberation: The critique and queering of categories and the imagining of utopian futures. Contrary to such optimism, other voices covered in the third block pointed out the Negativity of Sex and that to be queer is and should be being anti-social. With the progress of legal and social recognition, the bourgeois lifestyles mainstream gays and lesbians became a central issue of queer critique as well as how counter culture can resist. These debates are covered in the fourth block, Critiques of Homonormativity and Drag as Counterculture. Central to contemporary queer critique is to take the diversity and potential Intersections of social positions into account, and block five covers two major themes of these discussions: trans* and race. The last, sixth block interrogates Sex Today, especially how apps and drugs change male gay urban sex life and how a new and repressive “war on sex” threat-ens the liberal sex culture which is central to queer lives.

NOTE: This class deals with contested issues of sexual politics and questions mainstream gender and sex norms. We will talk about content which is potentially triggering for some, such as sexism, rape culture, racism, homophobia, deviant sex practices, substance use, etc. Please email me before the class starts in case you have any concerns about being triggered or feeling uncomfortable when discussing such issues.

Current Theories of Critique of Capitalism, 2019 (summer semester)

Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, MA Political Science

In the wake of the financial crisis at the end of the 2000s and the rise of right-wing populism in the 2010s, the critical confrontation with capitalism in science and politics experienced a revival. The seminar serves to deal with current theories, which help to understand capitalism on the one hand fundamentally in its functioning and its crisis. And on the other hand, the theories contribute to a better understanding of the current political situation, which is determined by the right-wing populist danger and a lack of orientation on the part of the left.

The relationship between identity politics and critique of capitalism is particularly controversial in left-wing politics and science. A widespread thesis is that the success of right-wing populist parties can also be traced back to a focus of left-wing politics on identity and diversity issues: Left parties would have lost sight of the economic interests of the employees and would have additionally alienated employees through their “political correctness” in their engagement against various forms of discrimination, so that they would turn to right-wing parties. Other voices already see a right-wing populist basic structure in such an argumentation, because it allows different groups to play off against each other, for example ‘German’ workers against ‘migrants’. Left politics, on the other hand, can only be successful if it is based on an alliance of various emancipation projects and combines critique of capitalism with identity politics.

Against the background of such debates, the seminar serves to discuss theories on the relationship between capitalism and identity politics on the one hand and on current developments in capitalism on the other. After a first fundamental part on Marx’s critique of values, we dedicate ourselves to postcolonialism and racial capitalism theories that show that colonial and racist exploitation form the foundations of capitalism. The third part serves the analysis of sexism and heteronormativity as a condition of capitalist economy. In the last part, we will more explicitly address the current rise of right-wing populism through analyses of the authoritarian basic structure of capitalism.

Fundamentals of Political Theory, 2018/2019 (winter semester)

Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, BA Political Science

The seminar introduces political theory through the reading of representative texts by central authors. It is divided into three parts, which are ordered systematically and historically. The first part introduces the contemporary state of normative political theory as a societal discourse of legitimation. We consider Rawls, an author who stands like no other for liberal thinking that is hegemonic in the global West. Reading Rawls is also intended to illustrate the systematic argumentation of political theory.

The second part is devoted to the history of political thought and serves to understand the lines of development of political theory that shape our thinking and political practice to this day. It is arranged chronologically and introduces with Plato and Aristotle into two ancient philosophers, and with Hobbes and Kant into two modern philosophers and their thinking of politics. In the discussion of these authors, systematic problems of contemporary normative political theory also become thematic, such as the relationship between reason, law and politics, the relationship between the individual and the community, and the significance of bourgeois self-determination. Thus, the historical part also serves the understanding of the contemporary difference between liberalism and republicanism and thus continues the reflection of the political theory of the present of the introductory part.

The third part deals with critical and diagnosing authors and continues the chronological order. Responding to the social question arising in the 19th century, the young social sciences develop systematic approaches to the analysis and critique of social grievances. With Marx, Freud, Adorno and Horkheimer, authors are treated who today are among the cornerstones of critical political theory. Luhmann and Foucault’s sharp analyses of social systems and the workings of power stand for critical methods that get by without having to formulate clear normative positions and that have found widespread use in today’s political theory. The selected Luhmanns and Foucaults analyze love and sexuality as a political phenomenon. Building on this, Butler’s last session deals with queer critique of gender categories. The increasing right-wing populist attacks against the critique of gender norms clearly demonstrate the relevance of political theory as social critique for current political debates.

Translated with

Global Law Theory, 2018/19 (winter semester)

Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, MA Political Science

Law has become global. Nowadays, legal regulation often takes place beyond the nation state and the legal actors have multiplied: Global legal regimes regulate trade and the Internet under the influence of multinational companies without nation states being able to exercise direct control; the international human rights regime is being developed through a complex interaction of local and international governmental and non-governmental organisations; and in the EU a substantial part of the law is Europeanised. In contrast to the ideal of law in a national constitutional state with sovereign legislation and a clear dogmatic hierarchy of norms and courts, global law is inconsistent, fragmented and conflictual. The seminar serves to discuss different approaches that reflect global law and the related challenges of democratic theory. The first part of the seminar is devoted to the analysis of the global legal order in legal-theoretical debates, such as the system-theoretical description of world law, legal pluralism and global constitutionalism. The second part analyses global law from the perspective of current critical political theory. The hegemony theory, postcolonialism and analyses of the current resurgence of nationalism will be discussed.

Fundamentals of Political Theory, 2018/2019 (winter semester)

Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, BA Political Science

The seminar introduces political theory through the reading of representative texts by central authors. It is divided into three parts, which are ordered systematically and historically. The first part introduces the contemporary state of normative political theory as a societal discourse of legitimation. We consider Rawls, an author who stands like no other for liberal thinking that is hegemonic in the global West. Reading Rawls is also intended to illustrate the systematic argumentation of political theory.

The second part is devoted to the history of political thought and serves to understand the lines of development of political theory that shape our thinking and political practice to this day. It is chronologically ordered and introduces with Plato and Aristotle into two ancient, and with Hobbes and Hegel into two modern philosophers and their thinking of politics. In the discussion of these authors also systematic problems of contemporary normative political theory become thematic, such as the relationship between reason, law and politics, the relationship between individual and community, and the meaning of bourgeois self-determination. Thus, the historical part also serves the understanding of the contemporary difference between liberalism and republicanism and thus continues the reflection of the political theory of the present of the introductory part.

The third part deals with critical and diagnosing authors and continues the chronological order begun. Responding to the social question arising in the 19th century, the young social sciences are developing systematic approaches to the analysis and criticism of social grievances. Marx, Freud and Horkheimer are authors who today are among the cornerstones of critical political theory. Luhmann and Foucault’s sharp analyses of social systems and the workings of power stand for critical methods that get by without having to formulate clear normative positions and that have found widespread use in today’s political theory. The seminar concludes with a contrast between de Beauvoir’s feminism and Butler’s queer critique of gender categories. The increasing right-wing populist attacks against the critique of gender norms clearly demonstrate the relevance of political theory as social critique for current political debates.

Radical Legal Critique and Migration, 2018 (summer semester)

FU Berlin, Lecturer, MA Political Science, Otto Suhr Institute, Department of Law and Politics, Blockseminar

The right to asylum is being increasingly eroded in Europe in order to limit migration. Both political philosophy and political activism usually respond to this by insisting that the right to asylum is a subjective human right and must therefore not be circumvented by politics. But the stability of the migration regime shows that this rights-based strategy works poorly. The seminar will therefore examine approaches to radical legal criticism that criticise law as repressive, anti-emancipatory, depoliticising or immoral, and ask whether they can help analyse the migration regime and motivate a new type of political criticism that is not based on rights.

On the first weekend, the seminar will focus on Christoph Menke’s Critique of the Right (2015). The monograph is the most radical and comprehensive critique of the liberal concept of subjective rights and has received a broad reception in the German debate. Menke expresses himself only in an essay directly on migration and flight by classifying this problem in his general critique of liberalism. The seminar will read this essay and the monograph with the question of whether liberalism and its legal regime are actually problematic in their core, or whether one can or should combine legal criticism with the demand for (certain) subjective rights. The primary reading of the text on Friday provides the basis for questioning and criticizing Menke’s legal criticism of her insights into migration on Saturday on the basis of secondary literature.

On the second weekend, Friday is dedicated to the approach of autonomy of migration and further current studies on migration and law. The autonomy of migration is a critique of hegemonic migration theory, which conceives migration as an object of push and pull factors and presupposes its controllability. In contrast, the approach emphasises the autonomy and creativity of migrants, and conceives attempts at control as a reaction to this. An ambivalent or even negative relationship to law is empirically described or theoretically advocated. On the one hand, the study of this approach serves to attempt to take the perspective of migrants and to understand the significance of law in migrant struggles. On the other hand, it is a question of whether a position critical of the law is projected by the autonomy of migration from the scholars onto the migrants and whether radical criticism of the law is a privilege of these scholars. This question will be followed up on Saturday by reading American texts from the schools of Critical Legal Studies (CLS) and Critical Race Theory (CRT). The CLS project is a radical Marxist legal critique that is theoretically less fundamental than Menke’s approach, but similar in its radical claim. CRT criticizes CLS for devaluing, through the radical gesture of complete rejection of the existing legal regime, the small advances in emancipation made by non-privileged people who are fought out in non-ideal struggles for concrete justice. The seminar will discuss the thesis that Menke’s approach and also some perspectives of the autonomy of migration are problematic in the same way in order to work on a position that combines radical legal criticism with a differentiated view of the concrete usefulness of legal struggles and legal progress.

Democratic Theory and Social Criticism, 2017 (summer semester)

University of Bielefeld, teaching position, MA Education, block seminar

The seminar serves the reading of classics of democracy theory and social criticism. Fundamental questions of political and civil society coexistence will be discussed: What is the best form of government? How much power should the majority have? What is freedom, what is justice? What are human rights? What are the basic problems of our late capitalist societies? What is discrimination? What are the causes of sexism, homophobia, transphobia and racism?

In the first part, two extremes of the democratic spectrum are contrasted: Rousseau’s identity democracy theory and Schumpeter’s elite model. In the second part, basic texts by Marx are read as a basis for the critical analysis of contemporary capitalist societies, as well as basic texts on gender, queer and racism criticism.

The seminar is a block seminar on two weekends. The democratic theoretical part takes place on the first weekend (Saturday Rousseau, Sunday Schumpeter) and socio-critical on the second weekend (Saturday Marx, Sunday gender, queer and racism criticism).

Contested terms: Migration, asylum, (human) rights, 2017 (summer semester)

University of Duisburg-Essen, MA Political Science, “Theories and Comparison

The so-called “refugee crisis” is characterised by deaths in the Mediterranean, inhuman treatment of refugees in Europe and an increase in xenophobic violence. This situation is not least a result of the way in which the contested concepts of asylum, migration and (human) rights are understood. Political theory reflects these concepts, which are also theoretically contested. The seminar serves to deal with political-theoretical reflection in order to gain a deeper understanding of the political, legal and moral issues of migration and asylum policy. After a review of the legal situation and normative theories, the focus is on the critical-constructivist analysis of migration policy from a poststructuralist and systems-theoretical perspective.

The first part analyses the current legal and political situation, including reading the Geneva Refugee Convention (1951) and the Additional Protocol (1967), the European Convention on Human Rights (1950) and the Basic Law (1949), and the regulation of asylum and migration in the current European migration regime.

The second part of the seminar is devoted to normative considerations on what kind of approach to the topic of migration and asylum is fundamentally meaningful and appropriate. In particular, the question is negotiated whether national borders and sovereign decisions on who may enter ’their’ territory can be legitimised, or whether there should be open borders in principle, i.e. a right to global freedom of movement.

The third part focuses on theories that critically and constructivistically reflect migration and asylum policy without being normativist. On the one hand, critical migration research is treated with a focus on the approach of the “autonomy of migration” in the poststructuralist tradition. This approach is directed against the government of migration, in which migrants only appear as passive objects of push and pull factors without their own voice. On the other hand, the system-theoretical analysis of the current human rights regime between law and politics paints a more complex picture than the normative theories, which, despite the normative restraint of the system theory, can also help to reflect on and improve political-theoretical instruments of criticism with regard to the migration regime.

New right-wing populism in the mirror of liberal and radical democratic theory, 2016/17 (winter semester)

University of Duisburg-Essen, BA teaching office

In many European countries right-wing populist parties are on the advance and are enormously successful in elections. The aim of the seminar is to understand this success. The seminar is based on the thesis that the success of right-wing populists is not caused by short-term events, such as an increase in the number of fleeing people and the subsequent right-wing scare tactics, but that the problem lies deeper, namely in the structure of liberal and representative democracy. This thesis is based on the critique of radical democratic theories of liberal democratic theories that has been expressed for a long time. The seminar serves to understand this criticism, to criticize it again and to think further.

The first part of the seminar will provide a basic knowledge of right-wing extremism through reading Samuel Salzborn’s monograph on the subject and on anti-Muslim racism using postcolonial theory. The second part is devoted to liberal theory of democracy, firstly on the basis of its roots in classical contract theories (Hobbes/Locke) and secondly in a current variation on the example of Jürgen Habermas. The third part of the seminar is dedicated to Colin Crouch’s contemporary diagnosis that we are living in a post-democracy that has degenerated into a spectacle. The fourth part turns to Chantal Mouffe’s theoretical critique of liberalism, which would ignore the political conflict and thus fuel (right-wing) extremism. The fifth and final part is devoted to Jan-Werner Müller’s new monograph on populism, which can also be understood as a differentiated liberal response to mouffles.

Contested terms: power, 2016 (summer semester)

University of Duisburg-Essen, MA Political Science “Theories and Comparison

The seminar examines the concept of power in the debate of contemporary political theory in four different schools of thought. The schools are treated one after the other on the basis of their most important representatives and are systematically indexed and compared.

The first school of thought is the atomistic one (Weber, Lovett). Power is understood here primarily as “power over” that is exercised by certain persons or institutions over others. Accordingly, the theorization of this kind of power is usually associated with the legitimization of political institutions through which it can be controlled and channeled.

The second school of thought is the holistic one (Foucault, Gramsci, Bourdieu). Power is understood here as a structure which is both restrictive and enabling, which cannot be attributed to individual actors and which often determines ways of thinking and behaving unnoticed. In this concept of power the aspects of “power over” and “power to” dissolve.

The third school of thought is the collectivist (Arendt). Here the structurally enabling function of power is at the centre. Power is understood as “power-to”, which, however, can only be achieved through collective mergers.

The fourth school of thought is sociological systems theory (Luhmann). Power is understood here as a symbolically generalized medium of communication, whereby both the aspect of “power-to” and “power-over” can become thematic.

State and Democracy Theories, 2015/17 (winter semester)

University of Duisburg-Essen, BA teaching office

The seminar introduces the basic problems of today’s state and democracy theoretical discussion through a historical and systematic approach.

The first half of the seminar focuses on modern normative democracy theory. The focus is on the span between liberalism and republicanism. Students should gain an understanding of the fundamental problems of modern democratic theory and be able to understand the systematically similar pairs of terms law vs. politics, fundamental rights vs. popular sovereignty, reason vs. power, treaty vs. community. Through the contrasting reading of Montesquieu vs. Rousseau, Kant vs. Hegel, Rawls vs. Arendt it should become clear that these systematic tensions structure the discussion from the classics to the authors of the 20th century.

The second half of the seminar will focus on constructivist and post-fundamentalist approaches that break with normative and ‘old European’ democratic theories. Luhmann’s reading offers an introduction to constructivist or ‘post-modern’ thinking and at the same time a sociological response to the democratic tension between law and politics introduced in the first half of the seminar. Lefort’s reading serves as an introduction to the current discussion on post-fundamentalist theory of democracy and ’the political’. In the last sessions there will be an examination of contemporary radical-left democratic theoretical approaches based on post-fundamentalist thinking. On the basis of reading Rancère, Hardt/Negri and Abensour, the question is discussed whether political institutions and statehood, which are always assumed by the theories discussed in the first half, stand in the way of a ’true’ democracy.

Introduction to Ethics/Philosophy (PL 431), 2015 (summer semester)

Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City, Adjunct Professor, BA-Level

We constantly think about how to treat other people: How egoistic may we act? Which are good principles to follow? Which side shall we take in conflicts about values? Which political groups shall we support? Morality is the system of rules and values according to which we try to answer such questions. Ethics, or moral philosophy, is the philosophical reflection of these questions. This class is an introduction to ethics. We will discuss some of the best moral problems and answers which philosophers developed in the last 2500 years.

Engaging with these philosophers will help students to improve their moral reasoning, to develop more nuanced positions about moral and political questions, to improve their argumentation and discussion skills in general, and to liberate themselves through engaging in critical thinking.

In the first section of the class, after a short introduction to ethics and the art of good argumentation, we will ask whether we should be moral at all, if morality might be based in religion or nature, and how objective moral judgments are. After these general considerations, which belong to the field of ‘meta-ethics’, in the second section of the class we engage with ‘normative ethics’. Normative ethics entails different theories which try to tell us how we should act. We discuss the most important approaches: Virtue ethics, consequentialism, deontology, contractualism, and feminist ethics. We are going to apply these theories to contemporary moral concerns, such as abortion, euthanasia, and poverty. In the third section of the class, we deal with different challenges for ethics. First, we discuss pluralism and cultural relativism, and how some answers to these challenges might be found in political theory. Second, we discuss ideology critique and genealogical critique, which show us how deeply we are dependent on social norms, and we discuss how these insights are ethically applied in the contemporary discussions about queer theory, critique of racism, and critique of neoliberalism.

This course allows students to: 1.Read philosophical texts systematically. This includes identifying and analyzing the arguments in a text and engaging in a basic internal critique of the arguments. It also include writing excerpts of texts. 2. Engage in discussions about moral questions using philosophical arguments and criticize one another’s arguments by an analysis of their structure. This includes separating well-reasoned arguments from mere opinions. 3. Become familiar with the most crucial problems of moral philosophy, the most dominant ethical theories, and of some fundamental problems of political theory. 4. Critically reflect upon their own believes about norms and values. 5. Write a philosophical essay using sound argumentation. 6. Improve their presentation techniques.

Love and Society, 2013 (summer semester)

Leuphana University Lüneburg, teaching assignment, BA complementary studies, block seminar, team teaching with Hannes Glück

Love - one of the most important themes in life - is usually understood by us as something very private and intimate, perhaps also fatelike, which only has something to do with the lovers themselves. In the seminar we ask against it: What does love (and sexuality) have to do with society? We deal with the question from three different lines of tradition in social theory and introduce it into its central thought figures and argumentation patterns: systems theory, critical theory and poststructuralism.

1st Systems Theory: Using Niklas Luhmann’s “Love as Passion” as an example, we approach the social-theoretical perspective on love, which deviates from our everyday understanding. Everyday love is understood as feeling, while Luhmann describes it as a certain standardized way of communicating (like money or power) that fulfils specific social functions. Luhmann’s description of the historical transformation of ideas about love introduces us to a fundamental figure of thought in social theory: the historicity of our ways of thinking and acting.

2nd Critical Theory: In “Feelings in Times of Capitalism” Eva Illouz examines how psychology, and psychoanalysis in particular, teaches us to rationalize our feelings and talk about them - and what this has to do with capitalism. Based on their critique of the psychological-capitalist rationalization of our emotional and love life, we will discuss the question of the normative standards of social critique.

  1. poststructuralism: The queer studies (Judith Butler, etc.) criticize the “heteronormative matrix” that discriminates against LSBTIQ* ways of life and commits us to romantic relationships of two. We deal with current queer texts and debates, through which we get to know central concepts of social criticism, such as social standardization and power.