I graduated from The University of Leeds with a BA (Hons) in Philosophy in 2001 and more recently gained a distinction in my MA in European Philosophy in 2016 at Manchester Metropolitan University.
In between the two amongst other roles I have been a secondary school teacher of Religious Studies and Philosophy for seven years, including teaching A-level Philosophy and Ethics throughout this period. I also spent over two years living in a remote area of Nepal working within six schools as a Teacher Trainer. In this role I worked with teachers to provide new techniques and resources which emphasized a student centred pedagogy. As part of my role as a development worker I also engaged with women’s empowerment groups in a number of villages supporting capacity building for their members.
The ongoing relation of global communities has raised an awareness to the possibility of human rights and opportunites for empowerment for many around the world. With this also arrives a frustration for those who are politically disempowered when they are denied the same access to opportunities as others. Isolated from political systems the treatment of the disenfranchised can go unrecognised. The protective and defensive stances that can contriubute to oppresive relations can be understood through a competitive individuating conception of sovereignty where each sovereign identity designates a share in property, political control and territory. By understanding sovereignty through defined boundaries it instigates a confrontational narrative of “Us and Them” encouraging competition for resources and defensive attitudes to protect ownership. In response to this problem the research employs these guiding questions:
- How is the historical understanding of sovereignty competitive?
- Can sovereignty be reinterpreted as communal?
The research begins with a genealogical study of sovereignty through the writings of Augustine, Machiavelli, Luther, Bodin, Hooker, Hobbes, Rousseau, Spinoza and Schmitt. It identifies how these thinkers contribute to an understanding of sovereignty rooted in competition and ownership before looking to challenge this formulation, and the opportunities that some of these thinkers provide for a different direction for sovereignty.
The philosophy of Emmanual Levinas is then employed to provide an alternative ontological understanding whereby our identity (and ontology itself) follows from our interaction with others, such that the event of meeting an-other person is a constitutive aspect of who and what we are. This incorporation of the “Other” within our self suggests a more permeable understanding of identity that the research will look to bring into confrontation with the traditional understanding of sovereignty and employ as the cornerstone for developing a more communal formulation of sovereignty. This form of sovereignty will look to incorporate the inclusivity that Levinas' thought is suggestive of through his identification of the constitutive role the Other has to play in our own constitution. Derrida's work will also be employed as an avenue through which to critique Levinas' thought, and thus contribute to the developing form of sovereignty.