Start main page content


Staff members of the NRF/British Academy SA-UK Bilateral Chair in Political Theory



Prof Lawrence Hamilton

Professor Lawrence Hamilton [BA (MA), MPhil, PhD (Cantab) MASSAf] contributes to rethinking political theory from the perspective of the global South around five main themes:

1) needs, interests and rights;

2) freedom, resistance and democracy;

3) states, markets and political judgement;

4) the ethics and economics of Amartya Sen;  and

5) decolonizing republics.

He is editor-in-chief of Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory and co-founded and co-directs APTA. His many articles and books include Amartya Sen (Polity 2019), Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (Cambridge University Press 2014), Are South Africans Free? (Bloomsbury 2014), and The Political Philosophy of Needs (Cambridge University Press 2003). He is currently working on another book: Human Needs, Human Rights and Political Judgement.

He is the only political scientist ever to receive an A-rating from the South African National Research Foundation (NRF).


Postdoctoral Research Fellows 

Dr John S Sanni

He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Political Theory at the University of the Witwatersrand. His research areas include African political philosophy, conflict studies, religion and politics, and contemporary philosophy.


1) Sanni, J. "Heidegger's 'Potentiality-for-Being': Towards Adequate Economic Development in Nigeria". (Development Southern African Journal, Volume 34,2017)

2) Sanni, J. " Religion:A New Struggle for African Identity". (Phronimon:Journal of the Sanni,J. South African Society for Greek and Humanities,Volume 17,2016)

3) Sanni, J. " Moveable Roots: Thinking Africa Past,Present and Future". (Chiedza Journal of Arrupe College Volume 17,2014)

4) Sanni, J. "Rawls's Conceptualization of the 'Original Position' and the 'Veil of Ignorance: Examining some injustice in Contemporary Nigeria" (Ciedza Journal of Arupe College Volume 15 no.2 December 2012)

5) Sanni, J. "Reason and Religion and the Struggle for Society" ( Chiedza Journal of Arrupe College Volume 1 no.2 December 2010)



Dr Ayesha Omar


Ayesha Omar holds a BA in Politics, History and Journalism (Rhodes University) with distinction and an MA (cum laude) in Political Philosophy. In 2016 she completed her Ph.D. in political theory, supervised by Professor Lawrence Hamilton. Her thesis is a comparative account of political authority in the work of Medieval Philosophers, Ibn Rushd and Marsilius of Padua.  Currently, she is devoting time towards publishing her PhD into a monograph after publishing a book chapter and several peer-reviewed articles. Ayesha is a recipient of the Andrew Mellon Foundation Early Careers Research grant. Her research and teaching aims to contribute to an understanding of non-western traditions of political theory, with a specific focus on normative sources from Africa and the Middle East that have hitherto been neglected by the western canon of political theory. Her main research interests include Comparative Political Theory, Islamic Political Thought, African Political Thought, and South African Black Intellectual History. In 2017, she also received the Mail and Guardian 200 Young South African award for her contributions to university teaching. She is an associate editor of Theoria: a Journal of Social and Political Theory


Dr Cecilia Schultz

Ceclia Schultz


Dr Cecilia Schultz's research explores the politics and power relations involved in the production of financial and economic discourse. I am particularly interested in uncovering the historical ambiguities, ideological contestations, and methodological compromises that underpin the production of powerful indicators like sovereign credit ratings. The aim is to re-politicise the arithmetic, ‘objective’ grammar of financial economics in order to broaden the democratic content of market knowledge and practices. My research is currently divided into the following three projects: 1) Exploring the post-coloniality of neo-classical economics; 2) Examining the micro-processes involved in the production of quantitative knowledge in financial markets, particularly inflation statistics and credit ratings, and 3) Interrogating the financialization of housing in the South African context.



Schultz, Cecilia. 2021. ‘Postcolonial Finance: The Political History of “Risk-Versus-Reward” Investment in Emerging Markets.’ Theoria, 68(1): 60-68. Doi: 10.3167/th.2021.6816603

Schultz, Cecilia. 2020. ‘The Marikana Massacre and the Unstable Geographies of Capital: Spatialising Financialisation’, Politikon 47(1): 42-61. DOI: 10.1080/02589346.2020.1714899

Schultz, Cecilia. & Van Riet, Gideon. 2018. ‘Land deals in Africa, lessons for South Africa?’, South African Review of Sociology 49(1):34-52.

Book Review

Schultz, Cecilia. 2020. Book Review of Amartya Sen by Lawrence Hamilton. Theoria, 67(165): 118-121. Doi: 10.3167/th.2020.6716506



Dr Camila Vergara (POLIS,Cambridge)

Dr Camila Vergara 

Camila Vergara is a critical legal theorist, historian, and journalist from Chile, currently researching on the relation between inequality, corruption, domination, and the law as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at University of Cambridge. She is the author of Systemic Corruption: Constitutional Ideas for an Anti-Oligarchic Republic (Princeton University Press 2020) in which she argues that the majority of modern liberal democracies have become increasingly oligarchic, suffering from a form of structural political decay: a systemic corruption that is built into the very fabric of our representative systems.


To account for ever-expanding systemic corruption and oligarchic domination, Systemic Corruption proposes to use a material method to study constitutions by which the organization of political power is analysed taking into account socioeconomic power structures and the ways in which the State enables some kinds of actions while disabling others. To further develop this material constitutionalism, through which structural domination can be properly studied, and further enhance our understanding of systemic corruption and its effects on the freedom of individuals, her new book project seeks to develop a plebeian theory of rights, in which rights do not originate in natural law but on power relations and the juridical protections resulting from the conflict between the powerful few and the many.


Dr. Vergara holds a PhD in Political Science with specialization in Constitutional Law from Columbia University, an MA in Politics from The New School for Social Research, and an MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from New York University. She has been a lecturer in political theory at NYU and Columbia College, and an instructor in constitutional law at Columbia University School of Professional Studies.


She has published her work in academic journal such as the Journal of Political Philosophy, Philosophy & Social Criticism, and the European Journal of Social Sciences, as well as in media outlets including JacobinSidecar–NLR, Boston Review, CIPER Chile and Interferencia. She is currently advising representatives in the Constitutional Convention in Chile who are tasked with writing a new constitution, as well as collaborating with the popular assemblies that emerged after the October 2019 uprising.



‘Corruption as Systemic Political Decay’ Philosophy & Social Criticism, 47.3 (2021): 322–346.

‘Machiavelli's Republican Constituent Power’ in Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy. New Readings, Edited by Diogo Pires Aurélio & Andre Santos Campos. Brill 2021

‘Political Action, Revolutionary Parties and the Transition to a Republic of Councils’ in Rosa Luxemburg: New Perspectives on Life, Works and Impact, edited by Frank Jacob. Karl Dietz Verlag, 2021

‘Lenin and the Materialist Critique of Labor Law,’ in The Futures of Lenin. Edited by Alla Ivanchikov & Robert Maclean. SUNY Press 2021

Systemic Corruption. Constitutional Ideas for an Anti-Oligarchic Republic. Princeton University Press, 2020

República plebeya. Guía práctica para constituir el poder popular. Editorial Sangría, 2020

‘Populism as Plebeian Politics: Inequality, Domination & Popular Empowerment’ Journal of Political Philosophy 28.2 (2020): 222–246.

‘The Plebeian People of Populism’ Revue européenne des sciences sociales, special issue La pensée populiste, 58.2 (2020): 77–96.

‘Populism: Plebeian Power against Oligarchy’ in Constituent Power: Law, Popular Rule, and Politics. Edited by M. Arvidsson, L. Brännström & P. Minkkinen. Edinburgh University Press, 2020.

‘Crisis Government: The Populist as Plebeian Dictator’ in Mapping Populism: A Guide to Understanding and Studying Populism. Edited by Amit Ron and Majia Nadesan. Routledge, 2020

Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict, co-edited with David Johnston & Nadia Urbinati. University of Chicago Press, 2017



Past Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr Michael Elliott

His research falls most directly under the category of democratic theory, principally as applied to contemporary issues of colonialism/decolonialism. He is currently working on projects that explore: 1) The concept of freedom in Frantz Fanon’s thought; 2) Neoliberalisation and Colonial power; 3) Liberal Strategies of Political Legitimation; 4) Radical Democratic Citizenship in Apartheid South Africa; and 5) Colonial Temporalities.

He obtained his PhD from the University of Southampton, UK and have published in Constellations and Canadian Journal of Political Science.


Dr Albano Agostinho Troco

His research interests encompass issues on the nature of the post-colonian state in Africa, democratization and autocratization studies in Southern Africa, electoral politics and seccessionist conflicts

He obtained his PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand


1) Determinants of Successful Secessions in Post-colonial Africa: The case of South Sudan Brazilian Journal of Africa Studies. Vol.3.No.6 pp.55-74

Available at

2) Electoral Politics and Political Transition in Post-War Angola: Progress, Probles and Prospects. Journal of African Elections. Vol.18 No.1. June 2019. Pp.23-44

Available at:

3) Electoral Governance and Democratization in Southern Africa Post-conflict States: Electoral Management Bodies in Angola, Mozambique and South Africa. Journal of African Elections.Vol.18 No.2. pp.25-45

Available at:

4) Between Domestic and Global Politics:The Determinants of Eritrea's Successful Secession. Brazilian Journal of Africa Studies. Vol.4.No.8. pp.9-31.

Available at: