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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: Arts One, Room 2.30A
Twitter: @DrJoeHoover
Office Hours: Wednesdays 11:30am-12:30pm (F2F) & Fridays 3pm-4pm (Online, email to book)


I am a senior lecturer 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 often 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 now 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. For the past several years I focused on the use of human rights by diverse political movements, to take the measure of their limitations and their potential promise of a more radically democratic world. My current project rethinks questions of global justice by focusing on the injustices experienced in contemporary urban life, arguing for more inclusive and democratic global cities. profile


Undergraduate Teaching

POL263 Modern Political Thought 1

POL301 Civil Society (Placement)

POL393 Justice and the Global City


Research Interests:

In my academic work I am most fundamentally concerned with questions of global ethics. Over the past several years, I have 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 – focusing on the human right to housing.

My current research examines questions of justice by looking at global cities as key sites of injustice, which reframes questions about global justice in profound ways. The key claim in this project is that global justice requires an engagement with the globalisation of the process of urbanisation and that justice demands a political project of making cities more democratic and egalitarian.

Philosophically, my work draws from pragmatist and pluralist traditions, especially developing a situationist ethics inspired by John Dewey, which sits alongside an agonistic and pluralist commitment to radical democracy. At the centre of my research is a concern to interrogate the philosophical ideas we use to understand the world and guide our actions. I also try to pursue a style of philosophical reflection that is grounded in everyday experience, and which can assist in addressing pressing social problems, leading to my interest in developing ways of doing “global ethics” in a way that is intimately linked to practical political action.

Examples of research funding:

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

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

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



Myths and Mysteries in International Politics (with Diego de Merich, Aggie Hirst, and Roberto Roccu). Oxford: Oxford University Press (under contract, expected 2021).

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

Interrogating Democracy in World Politics (with Meera Sabaratnam and Laust Schouenborg). London: Routledge, 2011.

Articles and Chapters:

“Reconstructing Rorty? Between Irony and Seriousness” Theoria, Issue 162, Volume 67, Number 1 (2020), 89-93.

“Taking Responsibility in an Unjust World,” Journal of International Political Theory, Volume 16, Issue 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 and Littlefield International, 2018: 121-38.

“Democratic Moral Agency: altering unjust conditions in practices of responsibility,” in Moral Agency and the Politics of Responsibility, Tobias Debiel et al., eds. London: Routledge, 2017: 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 (2013), 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.


“The Human Rights State: Justice Within and Beyond Sovereign Nations,” Contemporary Political Theory, Volume 17, Issue 2 (2018), 90-93.

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

“Freeing the Pluralist Imagination, or on the wisdom of escaping Weber’s ‘Iron Cage’,” symposium on The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations by Patrick Thaddeus Jackson at 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, September 2020. (

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

“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:

  • Global Justice
  • Justice and Human Rights in Cities
  • Theory and Politics of Human Rights
  • International / Global Ethics and International Political Theory
  • Agonistic Pluralism
  • Pragmatism in Political Theory and Ethics

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

Public Engagement

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