Dr. Karsten Schubert

Since December 2022, I am Associate Fellow at the Political Theory Unit of Humboldt University Berlin. Previously, I was Assistant Professor (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter/geschäftsführender Assistent) at the Political Science Department, Section for Political Theory at the University of Freiburg. Meanwhile, I held fellowships at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies, at the Weizenbaum Institute Berlin and at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Bielefeld.. In addition, I have been a fellow at the Centre Marc Boch Berlin since 2018. My full academic CV can be found here.

My Newsfeed offers the best insight into my current activities. Please find the latest info about my activities on Mastodon and Twitter, as I am not always able to publish on events and publications promptly on the website.

Research Areas

  1. Contemporary critical political theory (at the intersection of French thought, Critical Theory, and political liberalism, especially radical democracy).
  2. Contemporary social criticism (especially intersectional theory, as well as debates around identity politics, ‘cancel culture,’ ‘political correctness,’ and academic freedom)
  3. Queer, gay male, and feminist theory
  4. Michel Foucault (especially his political philosophy and biopolitics)
  5. Critical legal theory, human rights, global democratization

Current research: Radical democratic theory of identity politics

In my current research, I am developing a radical democratic theory of identity politics. The main thesis is that identity politics is necessary for the democratization of democracy. This is because exclusion and discrimination within current democratic institutions are also a problem of political epistemology, that is, they are related to the possibilities and blockages of politically relevant knowledge. It is difficult for the majority society perspective to understand and adequately address structural discrimination, especially because this majority perspective often sees itself as formulating a universal view in which social positions do not matter. It is easier to address discrimination from the particular point of view of those affected by it. The disruptive breaking through of established understandings of the universal through particular identity politics is therefore central to the further democratization of democracy.

I develop the radical democratic theory of identity politics in three subprojects:

  1. Analysis of the conservative resistance against democratization through the fighting terms ‘political correctness’ and ‘cancel culture’
  2. Development of a constructivist conception of identity politics as active production of particular standpoints (with consideration of digital communication and the problem of potentially distorted representation through elite capture)
  3. Examining the relationship between particularism/universalism and power/reason in identity political democratization (first short publications).

I am continuing work on the three subprojects with a focus on the role of identity politics in establishing a critical understanding of academic freedom. In addition, I am working on a non-fiction book with the working title “Identity Politics and Democracy” in which I will present this research to a broader audience.

Completed projects

Queer and gay male theory

My research in queer and gay theory explores the impact of the AIDS crisis on gay subjectivity and politics, and how HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can help overcome homonormativity and enable new queer solidarities. On the one hand, this research reveals new connections between medical technology, politics, and subjectivity; on the other hand, it critically develops Foucauldian theorems. For instance, I have developed a new notion of “democratic biopolitics” in contrast to repressive biopolitics, which has also proven useful for analyzing the covid pandemic, and proposed a new concept of sexual liberation after Foucault. In addition, I have worked with colleagues on the development of human rights for trans* persons.

Foucaultian social philosophy and freedom

My research in political theory and social philosophy operates at the intersection of poststructuralism, critical theory, and political liberalism. I have developed the foundation for my work anchored in the three traditions in my dissertation, through an engagement with Foucault. The dissertation “Freedom as Critique. Social Philosophy after Foucault “ (transcript 2018) critically engages the social philosophical debate on freedom, power, and subjectivation in Foucault’s work. There, and in several articles, I have developed a new approach to the problem of freedom in Foucault, the notion of freedom as critique: Freedom as a capacity for critical reflection is instantiated by regimes of subjectivation that depend on political institutions.

I have done research on global legal theory, especially on critical legal philosophy and human rights philosophy and politics, as well as the question of migration), borders, and democratic membership. In these areas, I have also worked at UNESCO and the German United Nations Association, among others, and organized the lecture and workshop series “The Dissolution of the Liberal Consensus “ on critical legal theory at the University of Freiburg]. On the basis of the lecture series, I am working with Kolja Möller to publish a special issue in the Journal for Political Theory (Zeitschrift für Politische Theorie.


In teaching, I cover my research areas and the foundations of political theory and social philosophy. I like to give seminars on current social issues and political problems because the methodology of political theory is particularly powerful for the analysis of such current issues. An overview of my past teaching can be found here.

Short CV

Academic Positions

Humboldt University Berlin, Associate Fellow, Political Theory Unit, Department of Social Sciences, since 12/2022

University of Freiburg, Political Science, Section for Political Theory
Assistant Professor (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter/Assistent), 2018 - 2022

University of Bremen, Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences
Post-Doc-Fellow (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter), Field A, 2017 – 2018

University of Duisburg-Essen, Political Science, Section for Political Theory
Research Associate (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter), 2015 – 2017


PhD, Philosophy, University of Leipzig, 2017
Dissertation: Freiheit als Kritik. Die sozialphilosophische Debatte um Freiheit bei Foucault
Grade: summa cum laude
Published with transcript in 05/2018
Members of the Committee: Ulrich Johannes Schneider (Leipzig), Markus Gabriel (Bonn), Martin Saar (Leipzig), among others

MA, University of Leipzig, Political Sciences, Philosophy, Economics, 2010
Grade: 1.1

Sciences Po Paris, Master en échange, Paris, 2007/2008

Leibniz Kolleg, Studium generale (general studies), Tübingen, 2004/2005

Research and Fellowships

  • 10/2022 - 07/2023: Fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, Project on Identity Politics Representation and Elite Capture (discontinued 12/2022 for transfer to Berlin).
  • 05/2022 – 07/2022: Fellow at Weizenbaum Institute Berlin, research group Digital Citizenship, associated with the research group Democracy and Digitalization
  • 10/2020 – 03/2021: Fellow at the research group Global Contestation of Women’s and Gender Rights, Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF), Bielefeld
  • Since 10/2018: Associated researcher at the Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin
  • 09/2014 – 05/2015: Visiting Scholar, New School for Social Research Philosophy Department, New York City
  • 09/2013 – 11/2013: Visiting Scholar, Cardozo Law School, New York City

Third Party Funding and Fellowships

  • 10/2022 - 07/2023: Fellowship at Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies
  • 05/2022 – 07/2022: Fellowship at Weizenbaum Institute Berlin
  • 03/2022: Conference Funding by Freiburg Institute for Advanced Research, Conference „Transformations of the Political. Radical Democratic Theory for the 2020s”, together with Lucas von Ramin (Political Theory, Dresden), Vincent Gengnagel (Sociology, Flensburg), Geog Spoo (Philosophy, Freiburg)
  • 02/2021: Satellite Workshop „Radical Democracy and the Representation of Gender Rights”, organized together with Livia de Souza Lima, ZiF Bielefeld
  • 10/2020 – 03/2021: Fellow at the research group Global Contestation of Women’s and Gender Rights, ZiF Bielefeld, 6 months buy-out/substitute payment at home university
  • 04/2019 – 07/2019: Funds for the lecture series „Die Auflösung des liberalen Konsenses. Perspekti-ven der kritischen Rechtstheorie“ [The Dissolution of the Liberal Consensus. Perspectives of critical legal theory], University of Freiburg
  • 05/2012 – 09/2015: PhD scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation
  • 09/2014 – 08/2015: ERP Fellowship for research at top universities in the USA from the German National Academic Foundation, for research at the New School for Social Research
  • 09/2011 – 02/2012: Carlo-Schmid-Scholarship for internships in international organizations from the German National Academic Foundation
  • 08/2007 – 06/2008 Erasmus scholarship and study abroad scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation (Paris)
  • 2005 – 2010: Merit-Scholarship, German National Academic Foundation

Memberships and Activities

  • Member of Schwules Museum Berlin
  • Member of the DVPW Theory Section Gender and Diversity Commission
  • Founding member and speaker (until fall ‘21) of the DVPW Populism Theme Group
  • Associated Research Fellow at Centre Marc Bloch Berlin
  • Editorial board member of Zeitschrift diskurs
  • Reviewer for Zeitschrift für praktische Philosophie, Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaf, Philosophy & Social Criticism, Foucault Studies, Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, The Journal of Value Inquiry, BioSocieties, Schriftenreihe der DVPW, Leviathan, among others
  • German Association for Political Science (DVPW)
  • Former board member Engagierte Wissenschaft e.V.
  • Former member of the editorial board of Powision magazine

Non-Academic Professional Experience

  • UNESCO, Peace and Human Rights Education, Paris, Paid Internship and Consultancy
  • United Nations Association of Germany, Berlin, Paid Internship and Freelance Work
  • German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin, Paid Internship


If you want to stay up to date about my work, you can subscribe to my newsletter. I will then write you about four times a year to let you know what’s new.

Subscribe   Unsubscribe
E-Mail repeat:

Contact Details

Political Theory Unit
Department of Social Sciences
Humboldt University Berlin

Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin, Germany


Website Credits

Powered by Hugo
Hello World NG Theme made with ❤ by rhazdon

Photo Credits

Many thanks to Ezra Luke for the landing page photo!