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Staff Profile

Professor Lawrence Hamilton

QualificationsBA, MPhil, PhD
Phone 0117174362
Organisational Unit Political Studies
ORCID 0000-0001-9074-6591

Position: Professor of Political Studies, Wits, and NRF/British Academy Bilateral Research Chair in Political Theory, Wits and Cambridge

Professor Hamilton's research interests include topics in contemporary political theory, such as states, power, representation, freedom, needs, rights, resistance, democracy, markets and political judgement, as informed by real world politics, particularly in the global South, the history of political thought, and South African politics, political economy and intellectual history.

Lawrence has held visiting, teaching and research posts at Durban, Cambridge, Cape Town, Salvador, Caracas and Johannesburg. Currently, at Wits and Cambridge, he supervises 3 masters and 9 doctoral students, and mentors 3 postdoctoral fellows. He is the author of several books including The Political Philosophy of Needs (Cambridge University Press 2003); Are South Africans Free? (Bloomsbury 2014); and Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (Cambridge University Press 2014). He is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, and an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). He is editor-in-chief of Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, and has received more than ten awards for research excellence, including his current Research Chair, a TOFAC Award (2014), an NRF President’s Award (2007-11) and the Gladstone Memorial Prize (1996). For more, see his CV on the Association for Political Theory in Africa (APTA) website, which he co-founded and co-directs.

Professor Hamilton welcomes interested Masters and Doctoral students at Wits and Cambridge for supervision on any of these or related topics or thinkers. For more on supervision, and his Chair's bursaries and student exchange programme, please see his separate Chair website here; and feel free to contact him on or



Selected Publications


Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (Cambridge University Press 2014)

Are South Africans Free? (Bloomsbury 2014)

Intellectual Traditions in South Africa: Ideas, Institutions and Individuals, ed. P. Vale, L. Hamilton and E. Prinsloo

(University of KwaZulu-Natal Press 2014)

Puzzles in contemporary political philosophy: An introduction to South African students, with Louise Vincent and

Joleen Steyn-Kotze (Van schaik Publishers 2012)

The Political Philosophy of Needs (Cambridge University Press 2003)



‘Power, Domination and Human Needs’, Thesis Eleven Vol. 119, No. 1 (2013)

‘The Promise of Political Theory in South Africa’, Politikon, 40.2 (2013)

‘Collective Unfreedom in South Africa’, Contemporary Politics, 17.4 (2011)

‘Debt, Democracy and Representation in South Africa’, with Nicola Viegi, Representation 45.2 (2009)

‘“(I’ve Never Met) a Nice South African”: virtuous citizenship and popular sovereignty’, Theoria 119 (2009)

‘Human Needs and Political Judgment’, in New Waves in Political Philosophy eds Zurn & de Bruin (Palgrave 2009)

‘Needs and Agency’, in Handbook of Economics and Ethics, eds Peil and Staveren (Edward Elgar Publishing 2008)

 ‘The Context and Argument of The Political Philosophy of Needs’ (Symposium on The Political Philosophy of Needs), The South African Journal of Philosophy 25. 3 (2006)

‘Needs, Rights and Political Judgment: Response to Critics’, The South African Journal of Philosophy 25. 3 (2006)

‘Human Needs, Land Reform and the South African Constitution’, Politikon, 33. 2 (2006)

‘“Civil Society”: Critique and Alternative’, in Global Civil Society and Its Limits, ed S. Halperin (Palgrave 2003)

‘A Theory of True Interests in the Work of Amartya Sen’, Government and Opposition 34. 4 (1999)