Skip to main content
School of Politics and International Relations

Dr Joe Hoover, BA (Colorado), MA (LSE), PhD (LSE)


Reader in Political Theory

Telephone: 020 7882 2848
Room Number: ArtsOne, Room 2.30A
Twitter: @DrJoeHoover
Office Hours: Tuesday 16.30-17.30 (in person, drop in) and Wednesday 11.30-12.30 (online or in person, email to book)


I am a reader in political theory and joined the School of Politics and International Politics in 2016. Prior to coming to Queen Mary, I was a Lecturer in International Politics at City University London and a Fellow in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

I completed my PhD at the LSE in 2011 in the Department of International Relations, where I was often asked “why are you here?” This is a question I also asked myself, though I may have taken the question rather more philosophically than it was intended, having previously competed two philosophy degrees. Before entering the strange world of academia, I had strong opinions about politics, did some amateur theorising, and played guitar, but in the end got paid very little for any of my efforts; getting paid to do two out of three is a personal victory.

My research draws (productively, and at times uncomfortably) from both agonistic political theory and a critical reading of American Pragmatism, especially the work of John Dewey. At the centre of my interests is an interrogation of the philosophical ideas through which we understand the world, and which guide our actions. In turn, I also try to attend to how philosophical reflection grounded in everyday political experience can assist in addressing pressing social problems, leading to my interest in developing ways of doing political theory that is engaged with practical political action.

My current research reconsiders how we think about key political concepts such legitimacy, justice, rights, and citizenship, using the city as both a site for theorising and a focal point bringing multiple political concerns together. I am interested in using the city to get our bearings—in the sense of knowing where we are, as well as developing a distinctive urban disposition—and how this can help us understand what the pursuit of justice means in our troubled present. 

In my previous research, I focused on the contested idea of universal human rights, including how this idea developed, how it transformed world politics, and what further changes it may yet enable. I am particularly interested in the use of human rights by diverse political movements, as a way to take the measure of their limitations and their potential contribution to a more democratic world. My work has looked at the human right to housing and the right to the city, as well as questions of responsibility in international criminal law.


I am on research leave in semester one.

In semester two I will be teaching:


Research Interests:

My research is concerned with questions of political ethics, or questions of how to live well in conditions of increasing human interconnection and accelerating social change. 

Philosophically, my work draws from pragmatist and pluralist traditions, especially developing a situationist ethics inspired by John Dewey, which sits alongside an agonistic pluralist commitment to radical democracy. At the centre of my research is a concern to interrogate the philosophical, especially ethical, ideas through which we understand the world, and which guide our actions. In turn, I also try to attend to how philosophical reflection grounded in everyday political experience can assist in addressing pressing social problems, leading to my interest in developing ways of doing political theory in a manner that is engaged with practical political action.

My current research interests include questions of (i) urban justice, especially related to gentrification and the right to the city, (ii) reflections on political theory methodology, particularly developing a distinctly urban political theory and a situationist ethics, as an approach to grounded normative theory drawing from John Dewey’s philosophy, and (iii) a pragmatist genealogy of architectonic conceptions of justice. 

Previously, my research focused on the contested idea of universal human rights, including how these ideas have developed, how they have transformed world politics and what further changes they may yet enable as ethical and political claims made within national and transnational institutions as well as within global social movements.

Examples of research funding:

British International Studies Association: Core Funding, Ethics and World Politics Working Group (2016-2019). 

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Research Fellowship, University of Duisburg-Essen (2017).

City University of London, School of Arts and Social Science, Enterprise Seed Fund (2016), and Pump Priming Grant (2013).

London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of International Relations, Postgraduate Research Awards (2007-2010), Postgraduate Travel Grant (2008 & 2010), and Research Grant (2009).



Global Politics: Myths and Mysteries [with Diego de Merich, Aggie Hirst, and Roberto Roccu] (Oxford University Press, 2023).

Reconstructing Human Rights: A Pragmatic and Pluralist Inquiry in Global Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2016). 

Interrogating Democracy in World Politics, edited by Joe Hoover, Meera Sabaratnam, and Laust Schouenborg (Routledge, 2011).

Articles and Chapters

“Pragmatist Challenges,” in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Human Rights, Jesse Tomalty and Kerri Woods, eds. (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, forthcoming).

“The Injustice of Gentrification,” Political Theory 51, 6 (2023), 925-954.

“‘A Band Aid on a Bullet Wound’: Cosmopolitan Desire in a Pluriversal World,” in Human Rights at the Intersections: Transformation through Local, Global, and Cosmopolitan Challenges, Anthony Tirado Chase et al., eds. (London: Bloomsbury, 2023), 9-18.

“Taking Responsibility in an Unjust World,” Journal of International Political Theory 16, 1 (2020), 106-118.

“Performative Rights and Situationist Ethics,” Contemporary Pragmatism 16, 2-3 (2019), 242-267. 

“Developing a Situationist Global Justice Theory: from an architectonic to a consummatory approach,” Global Society 33, 1 (2019), 100-120.

“The Political Movement for a Human Right to the City,” in Critical Perspectives on Human Rights, Birgit Schippers ed. (London: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018), 121-138.

“Democratic Moral Agency: altering unjust conditions in practices of responsibility,” in Moral Agency and the Politics of Responsibility, Cornelia Ulbert et al., eds. (London: Routledge, 2018), 21-35.

“Claiming a Human Right to Housing: Eviction Defence, Home (Re)Occupation and Community Resistance,” Third World Quarterly 36, 6 (2015), 1092-1102.

“Moral Practices: Assigning Responsibility in the International Criminal Court,” Law and Contemporary Problems 76, 3-4 (2014), 101-124. 

“Towards a Politics for Human Rights: Ambiguous Humanity and Democratising Rights,” Philosophy and Social Criticism 39, 9 (2013), 935-961.

“Rereading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Plurality and Contestation, not Consensus,” Journal of Human Rights 12, 2 (2013), 217-241.

“Reconstructing Responsibility and Moral Agency in World Politics,” International Theory 4, 2 (2012), 233-268.

“Human Rights Contested,” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 6, 2 (2012), 233-246.

“Philosophers, Activists, and Radicals: a story of human rights and other scandals” [with Marta Iñiguez de Heredia], Human Rights Review 12, 2 (2011), 191-220. 

“Egypt and the Failure of Realism,” Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies 4 (2011), 127-137.

“Introduction: Interrogating Democracy in World Politics,” [with Meera Sabaratnam and Laust Schouenborg] in Interrogating Democracy in World Politics, Joseph Hoover, Meera Sabaratnam and Laust Schouenborg eds. (London: Routledge, 2011), 1-12.


“Reconstructing Rorty? Between Irony and Seriousness” contribution to a symposium on Clayton Chin’s “The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought,” Theoria 162, 67 (2020), 89-93.

Review of Benjamin Gregg’s “The Human Rights State: Justice Within and Beyond Sovereign Nations,” Contemporary Political Theory 17, 2 (2018), 90-93.

“Myths of Invention,” symposium on Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’ “Inventing the Future,” The Disorder of Things, 7 November 2015.

“Freeing the Pluralist Imagination, or on the wisdom of escaping Weber’s ‘Iron Cage’,” symposium on Patrick Thaddeus Jackson’s “The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations,” The Disorder of Things, 24 January 2011.

“Review of Richard W. Miller, Globalizing Justice,” International Affairs 86, 6 (2010), 1413-1415.

“Review of Avishai Margalit, On compromise and rotten compromise,” International Affairs 86, 5 (2010), 1209-1210.

“Review of Toni Erskine, Embedded Cosmopolitanism,” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 38, 3 (2010), 839-842.

Special Issues

Humanism from an Agonistic Perspective: Themes from the work of Bonnie Honig [with David Owen and Mathew Humphrey], critical exchange in Contemporary Political Theory 13, 2 (2014).

Human Rights as Ideal and Practical Politics [with Marta Iñiguez de Heredia], special issue of Human Rights Review 12, 2 (2011).

Interrogating Democracy in International Relations [with Meera Sabaratnam and Laust Schouenborg], special issue of Millennium: Journal of International Studies 37, 3 (2009).

Online Publications

"Cosmopolitanism’s abstraction can blind us to damaging hierarchies of humanity,” Open Global Rights, 24 September 2020.

“Is there a human right to the city? Rethinking the politics of rights,” OUPblog, 9 June 2016.

“Housing is a mental health issue: Root Shock and the London housing Crisis,” Focus E15 Website, 18 May 2016.

 “Ethics and Morality in IR,” Oxford Bibliographies in “International Relations.” Patrick James, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

“The Special Ambiguity of Humanity,” in Ethical Encounters in a Changing World series at The Disorder of Things, 18 April 2015.

“What We Did at ISA 2015: Tripping Over The Color Line,” The Disorder of Things, 9 March 2015.
“Whistleblowers, Wikileaks and how politics corrupts the law,” City Perspectives, 24 June 2013. 

“What We Talked About at ISA 2013: The Practice Turn and Global Ethics,” The Disorder of Things, 18 April 2013.

“American Vignettes (II): The Spirit’s Agenda,” The Disorder of Things, 18 March 2013.

“American Vignettes (I): Totalitarian Undercurrents,” The Disorder of Things, 9 January 2013.

“Something in the Way of Things,” The Disorder of Things, 7 December 2012.

“Kony 2012 and the International Criminal Court,” LSE Website, 16 March 2012. 

“We are Illafifth Dynamite!” The Disorder of Things, 20 January 2012. 

“Human Rights as Crisis Morality – a reply,” The Disorder of Things, 29 August 2011.


I welcome research students interested in the following areas:

  • Justice / Global Justice / Urban Justice
  • Rights / Rights to the City / Human Rights Cities
  • Theories and Politics of Human Rights
  • Agonistic Pluralism / Radical Democracy
  • Pragmatism in Political Theory and Ethics / John Dewey / William James

If you are interested in discussing the possibility of research supervision please email me (

Current Research Supervision

Luke Lavender, “The Voice of Silence: Exploring how ‘Illegal’ Immigrant Populations Become Emancipated Through Silent Forms of Political Participation,” 2022-present (with Lasse Thomassen).

Estelle Broyer, “The Politics and Publicness of Low-Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) Schemes in London,” 2021-present (with Regan Koch).

Emily Morrison, “Performing imaginaries? Transnational acts and anarchic spaces in the Western Balkans,” 2019-present (with Adam Fagan).

Previous Research Supervision

Marija Antanaviciute, “Experimentation and the Practice of Ethics: Creativity, Provisionality, and Renewal in Global Politics,” 2018-2023 (with Elke Schwarz). 

Sophie Crowe, “Asylum and political becoming: a case study of asylum seekers in Israel,” 2017-2022 (with Engin Isin). 

Sahra Taylor, “The Role of Education in the creation of a Cosmopolitan Identity, and Global Society,” 2014-2019 (with Tom Davies and Aggie Hirst). 

Public Engagement

Public Engagement

Presented at the 2023 Pint of Science Festival on “The Injustice of Gentrification”, 24 May 2023, London, UK.

Organised and co-taught a writing workshop, “Writing for Social Justice”, to members of Citizen UK’s Women 100 group over three weeks in July 2021.

Citizens UK partnership coordinator for School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, since 2017. Through the partnership I worked to integrate civic engagement into first and second-year modules in the school, provided opportunities for students to get involved in the local community, and served on the Tower Hamlets branch of Citizens UK’s leadership team. The first-year module was used as a case study for the Queen Mary Centre for Public Engagement. And from 2021 have set up a final-year placement module where Queen Mary students work with local community organisers. 

Presented to the London-based housing activist group Focus E15 on human rights and housing, and wrote a piece for their website on root shock and displacement, as part of their campaign housing and mental health campaign. 

Organised and hosted a workshop on the London Housing Crisis, supported by City University London. The workshop brought together academics and activists working on the issue, resulting in a report focused on the importance of attending to intersectional effects of insecure housing and homeless, especially with regards to mental health, and informed a campaign on mental health and housing by the Focus E15. 

International member of ONE DC, a housing rights organisation in Washington DC since 2013. In 2018, I organised a visit from Dominic Moulden, ONE DC Resource Coordinator, to give a lecture to students and contribute to a roundtable at Queen Mary University of London. The trip also served to make connections between urban justice groups in the US and UK.

Consulted on the exhibition “Unfinished Business: The Right to Play” at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Chicago.

Cofounder and contributor to the academic blog, The Disorder of Things. The blog was recognised as the best group blog at the 2013 Outstanding Achievements in International Studies Weblogging Awards during the ISA Annual Convention in April 2013. The blog has over 1,600,000 views since it was created in October 2010, with over 770,000 unique visitors.

Back to top