School of Politics and International Relations

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Professor Robbie Shilliam, BA (Sussex), MA, DPhil (Sussex)


Professor in International Relations

Telephone: 020 7882 8431
Room Number: Arts One, 2.15
Office Hours: Thursday 11am-12pm & Friday 11am-12pm


Robbie blogs at and has a personal blog at . He is co-convener of the British International Studies Association’s Colonial/Postcolonial/Decolonial working group and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Transnational Decolonial Institute.


Research Interests:

My research programme consists of three overlapping streams:

Investigating “Atlantic modernity”:

I am working to retrieve the archives and traditions of thought of enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Americas in order to re-assess the various European canons of thought that have predominantly framed understandings of enlightenment, modernity and capitalist development.

Mapping global interconnections between (post-)colonised subjects:

While most postcolonial theory focuses on the relationship between the colonised and coloniser, I am exploring ways to theorise the global relationships between differentially situated (post)colonised subjects. I seek to map out the way in which these relations have inspired and engendered critiques of a colonially inflected global modernity. My current major research project explores the American influences of Black Power and Rastafari upon the indigenous peoples of the South Pacific.

Decolonising International Relations (IR) Theory:

The archives and traditions of thought that I currently engage with focus upon suffering, surviving and resisting a (neo-)colonial world order. However, they do so by utilising understandings of time, space and relationality that fall outside of the broadly profane, impersonal and developmental frameworks of modernity assumed by historical sociology and implicit in the major frameworks of IR theory. I am therefore exploring the extent to which IR theory needs to be decolonised in terms of its accepted canon, broad assumptions, and central concepts. 


Journal articles

  • “Ethiopianism, Englishness, Britishness: Struggles over Imperial Belonging” Citizenship Studies doi: 10.1080/13621025.2015.1132572 (Earlyview, 2016)
  • “Colonial Architecture or Relatable Hinterlands? Locke, Nandy, Fanon and the Bandung Spirit”, Constellations doi: 10.1111/1467-8675.12163 (Earlyview, 2015)
  • “‘Open the Gates Mek We Repatriate’: Caribbean Slavery and Hermeneutic Tensions Within the Constructivist Project”, International Theory 6 (2), 2014, pp.349-372
  •  “Intervention and Colonial-Modernity: Decolonising the Italy/Ethiopia Conflict Through Psalms 68:31”, Review of International Studies 39 (5), 2013 pp. 1131-1147
  •  “Race and Research Agendas”, Cambridge Review of International Affairs 26 (1), 2013 pp.152-158
  • "Decolonial AestheSis: Be.Bop 2012 Black Europe Body Politics",Social Text/Periscope (special issue, 2013)
  • “Forget English Freedom, Remember Atlantic Slavery: Common Law, Commercial Law, and the Significance of Slavery for Classical Political Economy”, New Political Economy 17 (5), 2012 pp.591-609 
  • "Civilization and the Poetics of Slavery", Thesis Eleven, 108 (1), 2012 pp.97-116
  •  “Redemption from Development: Amartya Sen, Rastafari and Promises of Freedom”, Postcolonial Studies 15 (3), 2012 pp.331-350
  • “Decolonising the Grounds of Ethical Inquiry: A Dialogue Between Kant, Foucault and Glissant”, Millennium 39 (3), 2011 pp.649-665
  •  “Keskidee Aroha: Translation on the Colonial Stage”, Journal of Historical Sociology 24 (1) 2011 pp.80-99
  •  “The Atlantic as a Vector of Uneven and Combined Development”, Cambridge Review of International Affairs 22 (1), 2009 pp.69-88
  • “A Fanonian critique of Lebow’s Cultural Theory of International Relations”, Millennium 38 (1) 2009 pp.117-136
  •  “The Hieroglyph of the ‘Party’: Contextualising the Agent-Structure Debate through the Works of Trotsky, C.L.R. James and Althusser”, International Relations 22 (2) 2008 pp.193-219
  • "What the Haitian Revolution Might Tell Us About Development, Security and the Politics of Race", Comparative Studies in Society and History 50 (3), 2008 pp.778-808
  • “Morgenthau in Context: German Backwardness, German Intellectuals, and the Rise and Fall of a Liberal Project”, European Journal of International Relations 13 (3), 2007 pp.299-327
  • “Marx's Path to Capital: the International Dimension of an Intellectual Journey”, History of Political Thought 27 (2), 2006 pp.349-375
  • “What about Marcus Garvey? Race and the Transformation of Sovereignty Debate”, Review of International Studies 32 (3), 2006 pp.379-400 Translated into Spanish for; and reproduced in special issue on history and IR theory for Review of International Studies.
  • “Hegemony and the Unfashionable Problematic of Primitive Accumulation”, Millennium 33 (1), 2004 pp.59-88


  • Monographs:
    • The Black Pacific: Anticolonial Struggles and Oceanic Connections (London: Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2015)
    • German Thought and International Relations: The Rise and Fall of a Liberal Project (London: Palgrave, 2009) 251pp.
  • Edited volumes:
    •  (with Alex Anievas and Nivi Manchanda): Race and Racism in International Relations: Confronting the Global Colour Line (London: Routledge, 2014)
    • International Relations and Non-Western Thought: Imperialism, Colonialism and Investigations of Global Modernity (London: Routledge, 2010) 268pp.
    •  (with Gurminder Bhambra): Silencing Human Rights: Critical Approaches to a Contested Project (London: Palgrave, 2008) 336pp.

Book chapters

  • “Decolonizing the Manifesto: Communism and the Slave Analogy”, in T. Carver & J. Farr (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Communist Manifesto (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)
  • “The Crisis of Europe and Colonial Amnesia: Freedom Struggles in the Atlantic Biotope”, in J. Go and G. Lawson (eds.), Global Historical Sociology (forthcoming)
  • “In Recognition of the Abyssinian General”, in P. Hayden & K. Schick (eds.), Recognition and the International (London: Bloomsbury Academic Press, forthcoming)
  • “Race and Development” in H. Weber (ed.), The Politics of Development: A Survey (Abingdon: Routledge), 2014, pp.31-48
  • “Developmentalism, Human Security, Indigenous Rights”, in M.K. Pasha (ed.), Globalization, Difference and Human Security (London: Routledge, 2013), pp.91-102
  • “Black Redemption, Not (White) Abolition”, in  D.L. Blaney & A.B. Tickner (eds.), Claiming the International - Worlding Beyond the West (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 141-158
  • "Who will Provide the West with Therapy?", in A. Beattie & K. Schick (eds.), The Vulnerable Subject: Beyond Rationalism in International Relations (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp.133-148
  • “The Spirit of Exchange”, in S. Seth (ed.), Postcolonialism and International Relations (London: Routledge, 2013), pp.166-182
  • “The Polynesian Panthers and The Black Power: Surviving Racism and Colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand”, in Nico Slate and Joe Trotter (eds.), Black Power Beyond Borders (New York: Palgrave, 2012), pp.107-126
  • “The Drama Viewed from Elsewhere”, in Toni Erskine & Richard Ned Lebow (eds), Tragedy and International Relations (London: Palgrave, 2012), pp.172-184
  • “Ethiopia Shall Stretch Forth Her Hands Unto God: Garveyism, Rastafari and Antiquity”, in D. Orrells, G. Bhambra and T. Roynon (eds.), African Athena: New Agendas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011) pp.106-121
  • “Modernity and Modernization”, in Robert A. Denemark  (ed.), The International Studies Encyclopedia Vol. VIII (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 5214-5232
  • “The perilous but unavoidable intellectual terrain of the “Non-West”” in R. Shilliam (ed.), International Relations and Non-Western Thought (Routledge, 2010), pp.12-26
  • (co-written with Martin Munro 50/50%), “Alternative sources of cosmopolitanism: Nationalism, universalism and Créolité in Francophone Caribbean thought” in R. Shilliam (ed.), International Relations and Non-Western Thought (Routledge, 2010), pp. 159-177
  • “Jacobinism: the Ghost in the Gramscian Machine of Counter-Hegemony”, for Alison Ayers (ed.), Neo-Gramscians, Historical Materialism and International Relations (Palgrave, 2008) pp.189-208
  • “The 'Other' in Classical Political Theory: Re-Contextualising the Cosmopolitan/Communitarian Debate” in B. Jahn (ed.), Classical Theory in International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) pp.207-232

Other Publications

PhD Supervision

I welcome PhD candidates in the following areas;

  • Race and racism in world politics 
  • International relations and the (post-)colonial world
  • Slavery and its legacies
  • Postcolonial / Decolonial thought

Current Research Students:

Sofa Gradin (first supervisor), Taking Action to Make World Trade More Equal – How ‘D.I.Y’ Alternative Importers in the UK Are Shifting Value-Added to the South

Jenna Marshall (first supervisor), Radical Pedagogy and the Politics of Development in Small States: The Case of Barbados since Independence

Public Engagement

Robbie works with various Rastafari and Black community organisations in London and further afield.

Robbie is also a Trustee at Runnymede, an independent race-equality think tank.

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