A Journal of Social and Political Theory

Editor-in-Chief: Laurence Piper, University West, Sweden and University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Subjects: Social and Political Theory, Literature, Philosophy, History

 Available on JSTOR  

Theoria - Number 174, March 2023
Table of Contents

Special issue: Machiavelli and Contemporary Politics
Guest editors: Jan Bíba and Jakub Franěk

Machiavelli and Contemporary Politics
Jan Bíba and Jakub Franěk

Ten Theses on Machiavelli
Jeffrey Edward Green

The Wisdom of the People and the Elite: John McCormick and Leo Strauss on Machiavelli
Max Morris

Machiavelli, Epicureanism and the Ethics of Democracy
Christopher Holman

Reading Machiavelli and La Boétie with Lefort: Interpretation, Ideology and Conflict Then and Now
Emmanuel Charreau

On the Relevance of Niccolò Machiavelli’s Understanding of Time for Contemporary Politics
Benjamin Schmid

Book Reviews
Siphamandla Zondi (ed)., African voices. In search of a decolonial turn.
(Reviewed by Tshepo Mvulane Moloi)

Jeanne-Marie Jackson, The African Novel of Ideas - Philosophy and Individualism in the Age of Global Writing.
(Reviewed by Benjamin Kreitz)

Volume 69 / 2022, 4 issues per volume (March, June, September, December)

Aims & Scope

Theoria is an engaged, multidisciplinary and peer-reviewed journal of social and political theory. Published every quarter, its purpose is to address, through academic debate, the many challenges posed by the major social, political and economic forces that shape the contemporary world, especially but not only with regard to Africa, the global South, and their relations with the global North. Theoria wishes to promote discussion of and writing about social and political theory in any form and from any time and place, regardless of ideological perspective and methodological approach. It is particularly interested in how modern systems of power, and traditional and emergent forms of politics, bear on the central questions in social and political theory, such as democracy, freedom, equality, justice, race, gender and identity.

The journal publishes full and original articles, review essays and book reviews.

"Theoria is a journal which does not shy from the daunting task of dealing with issues which are not only increasingly complex but for which we no longer can make easy appeal to the certainty of foundations to answer. It deals with global issues in an authentically global way - it is interdisciplinary and intercultural in the very best sense of those terms and it understands that theory is one of the most important practices in which we can engage." —Professor James Buchanan, Xavier University

Open Access

Theoria is published as an Open Access journal as of 2021. Thanks to the generous support from a global network of libraries as part of the Knowledge Unlatched Select initiative, there are no submission or article processing charges (APCs) for articles published under this arrangement, resulting in no direct charges to authors.


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Editor-in-Chief: Laurence Piper, University West, Sweden and University of  the Western Cape, South Africa

Managing Editor: Sherran Clarence, Nottingham Trent University, UK

Chris Allsobrook, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Jérémie Barthas, CNRS-IHMC, France
Camilla Boisen, New York University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Roger Deacon, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Christine Hobden, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Ayesha Omar, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Laurence Piper, University West, Sweden and University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Reviews Editors 
Michael Onyebuchi Eze, Institute of Philosophy, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Editor Emeritus:
Raphael De Kadt
Lawrence Hamilton

Editorial Consultants
Barbara Adam, Cardiff University, UK
Anna Agathangelou, York University, UK
Pal Ahluwalia, University of the South Pacific, Fiji
Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York University, USA
Ronald Aronson, Wayne State University, USA
Kenneth Baynes, Syracuse University, USA
James Bohman, University of Canberra, Australia
Anuja Bose, University of Minnesota, USA
James Buchanan, Xavier University, USA
Terrell Carver, University of Bristol, UK
Stephen Chan, University of London, UK
Joshua Cohen, Stanford University, USA
Frank Cunningham, University of Toronto, Canada
Fred Dallmayr, University of Notre Dame, USA
Andre du Toit, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Johannes Fedderke, Penn State, USA
Raymond Geuss, University of Cambridge, UK
Daryl Glaser, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
Charles Griswold, Boston University, USA
Paulin Hountondjl, Université National du Bénin, Benin
Humeria Iqtidar, Kings' College London, UK
Michael Jackson, University of Sydney, Australia
Jaeho Kang, Seoul National University, South Korea
Robert Klitgaard, Claremont Graduate University, USA
Peter Mayer, University of Adelaide, Australia
Achille Mbembe, WISER, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Njabulo S Ndebele, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Marcos Nobre, Cebrap, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Claus Offe, Hertie School of Governance, Germany
Jennifer Robinson, University College London, UK
Ian Shapiro, Yale University, USA
Charles Simkins, Helen Suzman Foundation, South Africa
Bassam Tibi, Göttingen Universität, Germany
Camila Vergara-Gonzalez, Columbia Law School, USA
Ajume Wingo, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
Christopher Zurn, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA


Manuscript Submission

Please review the submission and style guide carefully before submitting.

The editors welcome contributions for publication in the journal, both articles of general interest and ones relating to theme issues.

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Ethics Statement

Authors published in Theoria certify that their works are original and their own. The editors certify that all materials, with the possible exception of editorial introductions, book reviews and some types of commentary, have been subjected to double-blind peer review by qualified scholars in the field. While the publishers and the editorial board make every effort to see that no inaccurate or misleading data, opinions or statements appear in this journal, they wish to make clear that the data and opinions appearing in the articles herein are the sole responsibility of the contributor concerned. For a more detailed explanation concerning these qualifications and responsibilities, please see the complete Theoria ethics statement.

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Theoria is published as an Open Access journal as of 2021. Thanks to the generous support from a global network of libraries as part of the Knowledge Unlatched Select initiative, there are no submission or article processing charges (APCs) for articles published under this arrangement, resulting in no direct charges to authors.

Development and Migration--Migration and Development

What Comes First? Global Perspective and African Experiences


Socio-economic change and human mobility are constantly interactive processes, so to ask whether migration or development comes first is nonsensical. Yet in both popular and political discourse it has become the conventional wisdom to argue that promoting economic development in the Global South has the potential to reduce migration to the North. This carries the clear implication that such migration is a bad thing, and poor people should stay put. This 'sedentary bias' is a continuation of colonial policies designed to mobilise labour for mines and plantations, while preventing permanent settlement in the cities. European policy-makers and academics are particularly concerned with flows from Africa, and measures taken by the European Union and its member states are often designed to reduce these - often in the guise of well-meaning development policies. By contrast, many migration scholars regard human mobility as a normal part of social transformation processes, and a way in which people can exercise agency to improve their livelihoods. This article examines these problems, first by providing a brief history of academic debates on international migration and development. It goes on to look at the politics of migration and development, using both EU policy and African approaches as examples. An alternative approach to migration and development is presented, based on a conceptual framework derived from the analysis of social transformation processes.


As temporary custodians of the planet, those who are alive at any given time can do a better or worse job of handing it on to their successors. I take that simple thought to animate concerns about what we ought to be doing to preserve conditions that will make life worth living (or indeed liveable at all) in the future, and especially in the time after those currently alive will have died (‘future generations’). There are widespread suspicions that we are not doing enough for future generations, but how do we determine what is enough? Putting the question in that way leads us, I suggest, towards a formulation of it in terms of intergenerational justice.

International Biopolitics

Foucault, Globalisation and Imperialism


In this article, I present a new Foucauldian reading of the international, via Foucault's concept of 'biopolitics'. I begin by surveying the existing Foucauldian perspectives on the international, which mostly take as their point of departure Foucault's concept of 'governmentality', and mostly diagnose a 'global governmentality' or 'global biopolitics' in the current era of globalisation. Against these majority positions, I argue that analysis of the contemporary international through the lens of Foucauldian biopolitics in fact shows us that our world system is marked by a parasitic imperialism of rich sovereign states over poor ones, carried on at the level of populations.

Revisiting the Menkiti-Gyekye Debate

Who Is a Radical Communitarian?



In this article, I intervene in the debate about the nature of Afrocommunitarianism between Ifeanyi Menkiti and Kwame Gyekye. I contend that Menkiti’s talk of ‘personhood’ entails a perfectionist moral theory to the effect that one ought to lead a morally excellent life in a context of ‘being-with-others’. Secondly, I deny that Menkiti’s political theory rejects rights per se; rather, I submit, a more charitable reading would recognise that he takes an agnostic stance towards them and that he conceives of an African political theory as one that is duty-based (and if it considers rights at all, these are secondary to duties). I also highlight that Menkiti’s contribution poses a challenge to African philosophers to justify their ontological commitment to rights. I conclude by drawing our attention to the fact that Gyekye’s in his latter political philosophy writings endorses Menkiti’s duty-based political theory, that rights take secondary consideration to duties.

Ex Aqua

The Mediterranean Basin, Africans on the Move, and the Politics of Policing

Within the annals of black studies, analyses of state power begin with a well-trod premise that policing is not a response to criminal behaviour; nor is it an extension of a criminal justice apparatus whose operations can be accounted for by political economy alone. Rather, the police power is foremost a cultural phenomenon irreducible to materialist conceptions of social control in a capitalist world system. More to the point, policing is a methodology for social organisation premised on antiblack sexual violence. We consider several recent events of state power in the Mediterranean basin – as in the Lampedusa boat victims – in order to ascertain the erotic authority governing the police power of state and civil society. By using the Lampedusa case and others, we highlight that police power in the Mediterranean is more than the interpersonal and the event, but instead manifests as a methodology of violence by the state and its regimes, as history, as legacy. The policing and murder of hundreds of Africans in the Mediterranean we contend are not single and episodic events or moments in time, but are situated in the accumulated violence against black people globally. Without an analysis of antiblackness in relation to policing as methodology, events such as Lampedusa can be seen and understood as moments of exception (i.e. bad FRONTEX policy) rather than a practice that fully follows racial slavery. Without understanding policing from this standpoint, the political reaction to Lampedusa and other events has the danger of promoting 'reform' and 'revision' rather than a more radical vision: a future where black lives matter.