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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: Tuesday 10.30-11.30am and Wednesday 11am-12pm


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’s research draws, productively and at times uncomfortably, from both agonistic political theory and a critical reading of American Pragmatism, with a focus on the work of John Dewey. 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 rethinks questions of global justice by focusing on the injustices experienced in contemporary urban life to develop an argument in favour of more inclusive and democratic cities.

Joe’s work on the human right to housing and the right to the city has led to collaborations with housing rights groups in the USA and the UK, including FOCUS E15 in East London and ONE DC in Washington DC. 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.

Twitter: @JoeHooverLDN

Blog: profile


Research Interests:

My research is most centrally 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, with a focus on both transnational institutions and global social movements. 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 suggests 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, 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 “global ethics” in a manner that is engaged with practical political action.

Current Research Projects:

Justice in the Global City

In this project I look, first, at how our understanding of justice is impaired by thinking in terms of the global or the nation as privileged political spaces. Second, I argue that we can better understand what global justice requires by attending to the injustices we find in contemporary global cities. Third, I argue that justice consists in substantive inclusion for all people in the political spaces and processes that affect them, and this requires inclusion in substantively democratic institutions that control the spaces we inhabit and the processes that affect us. From this conclusion, I then argue that we can see a model for this account of justice taking shape in contemporary global cities, where movements for urban justice emphasise three key requirements of justice: first, that the denizen (the person who dwells in the city) has political standing (rather than only the citizen or property owner); second, cities are a common resource and collective home to everyone who lives in them, which requires rethinking how access to economic wealth and political power are distributed—requiring a far more democratic distribution of both; and, third, as global cities are both affected by global processes and exert global effects, we can see that democratising the economic and political life of cities also entails changes in how cities relate—to nations, to other cities, to individuals.

Past Research Projects:

The 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 to understand the claiming of a human right to land and housing by activist groups around the globe, with a focus on the US and UK.

Reconstructing Human Rights

The language of human-rights claims and numerous human-rights institutions shapes 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.


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).

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


'Performative Rights and Situationist Ethics,’ Contemporary Pragmatism (forthcoming)

‘The Human Rights State: Justice Within and Beyond Sovereign Nations,’ Contemporary Political Theory, Online First (2017).

‘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 (2013), 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.

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

‘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.

‘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.

Book Chapters:

‘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).

‘Democratic Moral Agency: altering unjust conditions in practices of responsibility,’ in Moral Agency and the Politics of Responsibility: Challenging complexity, Tobias Debiel et al., eds. (London: Routledge, 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).

Journal Special Issues:

Eds. David Owen, Mathew Humphrey and Joe Hoover, special issue on the work of Bonnie Honig, Contemporary Political Theory, Volume 13, Issue 2 (2014), 168-217.

Eds. Joe Hoover and Marta Iñiguez de Heredia, ‘Human Rights as Ideal and Practical Politics,’ Special Issue, Human Rights Review, Volume 12, Issue 2 (2011), 145-246.

Eds. Joe Hoover, Meera Sabaratnam and Laust Schouenborg, ‘Interrogating Democracy in International Relations,’ Special Issue, Millennium Journal of International Studies, Volume 37, Issue 3 (2009), 531-836.

PhD Supervision

I am currently a PhD supervisor for Thomas Hooper and Sophie Crowe, at Queen Mary University of London, and Sahra Taylor, at City University London.

I welcome research students interested in the following areas:

  • Human Rights
  • Global Justice
  • Justice and Right in Cities
  • Politics of International Law
  • International / Global Ethics
  • Agonistic Pluralism, particularly the work of William Connolly and Bonnie Honig
  • Pragmatism in Political Theory and Ethics, especially the work of John Dewey

If you are interested in discussing the possibility of research supervision please email me ( I am especially interested in supervising students working on projects in political theory with a connection to international politics, as well as students working on international politics projects with a strong theoretical and/or normative element.

Public Engagement

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