School of Politics and International Relations

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

Reader in International Relations

Tel: 020 7882 8431
Location: Arts One 2.15


Robbie Shilliam
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, a member of the International Advisory Board of the Transnational Decolonial Institute, and an advisor to the Rastafari Global Council.


Undergraduate teaching:

Postgraduate teaching:


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. 



The Black Pacific: Anticolonial Struggles and Oceanic Connections (Bloomsbury Academic Press, Forthcoming 2014)

(co-edited with Alex Anievas and Nivi Manchanda) Race and Racism in International Relations: Confronting the Global Colour Line (Routledge: London, forthcoming 2014)

(edited) International Relations and Non-Western Thoughts: Imperialism, Colonialism and Investigations of Global Modernity (London: Routledge, 2010)

German Thought and International Relations: The Rise and Fall of a Liberal Project (London: Palgrave, 2009)

(co-edited with Gurminder Bhambra) Silencing Human Rights: Critical Approaches to a Contested Project (London: Palgrave, 2008)

Journal Articles:

"Black Europe Body Politics", in Special Dossier on Decolonial Aesthesis, Social Text – Periscope (2013), 

“Intervention and Colonial-Modernity: Decolonising the Italy/Ethiopia Conflict Through Psalms 68:31”, Review of International Studies (forthcoming)

“Race and Research Agendas”, Cambridge Review of International Affairs 26 (1), 2013 pp.152-158

“Redemption from Development: Amartya Sen, Rastafari and Promises of Freedom”, Postcolonial Studies 15 (3), 2012 pp.331-350

“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: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology, 108 (1), 2012 pp.97-116

“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

“A Fanonian critique of Lebow’s Cultural Theory of International Relations”, Millennium 38 (1) 2009 pp.117-136

“The Atlantic as a Vector of Uneven and Combined Development”, Cambridge Review of International Affairs 22 (1), 2009 pp.69-88

“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

“What about Marcus Garvey? Race and the Transformation of Sovereignty Debate”, Review of International Studies 32 (3), 2006 pp.379-400

“Marx's Path to Capital: the International Dimension of an Intellectual Journey”, History of Political Thought 27 (2), 2006 pp.349-375

“Hegemony and the Unfashionable Problematic of Primitive Accumulation”, Millennium 33 (1), 2004 pp.59-88

Book Chapters:

"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 Intimate Other: Hegel’s Exploration of a European Self”, in Ritu Vij (ed.), Hegelian Encounters: Subjects to International Relations (Palgrave, 2013), 20pp.

“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), “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

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

Minority communities - social justice and education

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