I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Government at Cornell University, working under the supervision of Susan Buck-Morss (chair), Isaac Kramnick, Jason Frank, Diane Rubenstein, and Richard Bensel.
My research is grounded in the history of political thought, classical and critical political economy, theory and histories of imperialism, and modern social theory.
I have recently completed my dissertation, entitled “Colonial Capitalism and the Dilemmas of Liberalism.” The dissertation offers a new perspective on liberalism as a unified yet internally differentiated intellectual field that has been shaped by the impact of what I call “colonial capitalism.” Focusing on the British Empire between the late-seventeenth and early-nineteenth centuries, I analyze three historical conjunctures where the liberal self-image of capitalism in Britain was contradicted by the manifestly illiberal processes of displacement and coercion in its imperial possessions. I situate this contradiction within the debates on property claims in American colonies, the trade relation between Britain and its Indian dominions, and the labor problem during the colonial settlement of Australia and New Zealand. Corresponding to the three nodal questions of “property,” “exchange,” and “labor,” I analyze the works of John Locke, Edmund Burke, and Edward Gibbon Wakefield as three prominent intellectuals who attempted to reconcile the liberal image of Britain as a commercial and pacific society with the illiberal processes of conquest, expropriation, and extraction of British colonialism. I conclude that the historical evolution of liberalism cannot be properly grasped without an account of the colonial origins of global capitalism and of the problems of legitimacy these colonial origins have engendered.