School of Politics and International Relations

Staff menu

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


Lecturer in Political Theory

Telephone: 020 7882 2848
Room Number: Arts One, Room 2.30A


Office Hours: Wednesdays 11am-12pm & Fridays 3-4pm

Joe is a lecturer in Political Theory in the School of Politics and International Politics at Queen Mary University of London. He has worked previously at City University London, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he also received his PhD. Joe joined the QMUL in September 2016 and will be teaching on core undergraduate political theory modules.

Joe’s research draws, productively and at times uncomfortably, from both agonistic political theory and a critical reading of Deweyan Pragmatism. He is preoccupied with questions of how we might know and pursue goodness and justice in our political lives, especially in a world beset with profound problems. For the past several years he has focused on the use of human rights by diverse political movements, in order to take the measure of both their limitations and their promise for a more radically democratic world. His latest research project builds on previous work on the movement for a human right to housing in the USA, by considering the more radical idea of a Right to the City as way of rethinking, and fighting for, justice in the contemporary global city.

Joe’s work on the human right to housing and the right to the city have lead to collaborations with housing rights movements in USA and the UK, including the FOCUS E15 campaign in East London. He is also the co-convenor and chair of the BISA Ethics and World Politics Working Group, and a founding contributor to the academic blog The Disorder of Things.

Joe also blogs at Dr Joe Hoover, and also tweets at @JoeHooverLDN


Research Interests:

My research is concerned with questions of global ethics, or questions of how to live well in conditions of increasing human interconnection and accelerating social change. Over the past several years, I have 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.

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 am 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 “global ethics” in a manner that is engaged with practical political action.

Reconstructing Human Rights

The language of human-rights claims and numerous human-rights institutions shape almost all aspects of our political lives, yet we struggle to know how to judge this development. Scholars give us good reason to be both supportive and sceptical of the universal claims that human rights enable. All too often, however, our evaluations of our human-rights world are not based on sustained consideration of their complex, ambiguous and often contradictory consequences. In Reconstructing Human Rights I argue that human rights are only as good as the ends they help us realise. We must attend to what ethical principles actually do in the world to know their value. Human rights are a tool that should enable us to challenge political authority and established constellations of political membership by making new claims possible.

Human Right to Housing

This project looks at the claiming of a human right to land and housing by activist groups as an emerging challenge to dominant liberal conceptions of human rights. This project has looked at the development of a human right to housing, considering both the limited institutionalisation of such a right at the national and international levels, while focusing  on how social movements have claimed and fought for such a right. This research combines empirical and philosophical work, and looks at the claiming of a human right to land and housing by activist groups around the globe, with a focus on the US and UK.

Justice in the Global City

This project begins from the core premise that our thinking on questions of justice needs to start with the everyday experience of injustice. From this starting point, I examine and defend the potential of rights claims to forward radical political ends, in this case for a right to the global city. This rights-claim, I argue, challenges conventional coordinates of political membership (privileging the denizen over the citizen) and articulates an ethico-political demand for the transformation of the contemporary urban environment (moving from one defined by exclusion and exploitation, to one defined by inclusion and cooperation).

Examples of research funding:

Centre for Global Cooperation Research - Research Fellowship (2017)
This is a nine-month fellowship at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen where I will be working on my research project Justice in the Global City

City University London - Enterprise Seed Fund (2016)
This fund supported a collaborative learning workshop on the London housing crisis, which brought academics, activists and affected communities together to learn, share and think about how academics can contribute to efforts to address the dire housing situation in London. This workshop is part of an effort to expand my research on the human right to housing from the US to the UK, and to continue thinking about how we can conduct collaborative normative research.

City University London - Pump Priming Competitive Grant (2014)
This grant supported fieldwork in the USA, principally in Washington DC and Chicago, looking at the movement for a human right to housing.



Reconstructing Human Rights: a pragmatic and pluralist inquiry in global ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)

Edited Books

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

Refereed Research Articles

‘Claiming a Human Right to Housing: Eviction Defence, Home (Re)Occupation and Community Resistance,’ Third World Quarterly, Volume 36, Issue 6 (2015), 1092-1102

‘Moral Practices: Assigning Responsibility in the International Criminal Court,’ Law and Contemporary Problems, Volume 76, Issue 3 & 4 (2014), 101-124

‘Towards a Politics for Human Rights: Ambiguous Humanity and Democratising Rights,’ Philosophy and Social Criticism, Volume 39, Issue 9 (2013), 935-961

‘Rereading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Plurality and Contestation, not Consensus,’ Journal of Human Rights, Volume 12, Issue 2 (2013), 217-241

‘Reconstructing Responsibility and Moral Agency in World Politics,’ International Theory, Volume 4, Issue 2 (2012), 233-268

‘Philosophers, Activists, and Radicals: a story of human rights and other scandals’ (with Marta Iñiguez de Heredia), Human Rights Review, Volume 12, Issue 2 (2011), 191-220

Book Chapters

‘Democratic Moral Agency: altering unjust conditions in practices of responsibility,’in Blurred Responsibilities: Re-thinking Moral Agency in a Complex World, Tobias Debiel et al., eds. (London: Routledge. 2017)

‘The Political Movement for a Human Right to the City’ in Critical Perspectives on Human Rights, Birgit Schippers ed. (London: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2017)

‘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)

Comment and Review Pieces

‘Human Rights Contested,’ Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Volume 6, Issue 2 (2012), 233-246

‘Egypt and the Failure of Realism,’ Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies, Issue 4 (2011), 127- 137

‘Review of Richard W. Miller, Globalizing Justice,’ International Affairs, Volume 86, Issue 6 (2010), 1413-1415

‘Review of Avishai Margalit, On compromise and rotten compromise,’ International Affairs, Volume 86, Issue 5 (2010), 1209-1210

‘Review of Toni Erskine, Embedded Cosmopolitanism,’ Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Volume 38, Issue 3 (2010), 839-842


PhD Supervision

I welcome research supervision in the following areas:

  • Agonistic Pluralism
  • Radical Democratic Theory
  • Pragmatism in Political Theory and Ethics
  • Global Ethics and International Political Theory

Past students

  • Sahra Taylor (City University London), ‘Education: The Forgotten Fundamental of Cosmopolitan Theory’
  • Thomas Hooper (City University London), ‘A Critical Assessment of the Ethical Challenges in Applying Normative International Relations Theory to Contemporary Conflict’

Public Engagement

  • Presented to the London-based housing activist group Focus E15 (formerly E15 Mothers) on human rights and housing, and wrote a piece for their website on housing as a mental health issue (
  • International member of ONE DC, a housing rights organisations in Washington DC since 2013. I am currently contributing to the development of a strategy to strengthen ONE DC’s profile as a thought leader in the fight for justice in Washington DC and beyond
  • Consulted on the exhibition “Unfinished Business: The Right to Play” at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Chicago, IL. (
Return to top