“Decolonizing Anglo-American political philosophy: The case of migration justice”

Alison M. Jaggar | University of Colorado, Boulder, and University of Birmingham, UK

Introduction by David Boersema, Douglas C. Strain Professor of Natural Philosophy and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Pacific University

No one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
—Warsan Shire, Home, 2009

In 2014, the United States declared an immigration crisis, prompted by a surge in unaccompanied children and women seeking entry from Central America. In 2015, the European Union announced a migrant crisis because large numbers of people arrived across the Mediterranean and through Southeast Europe. This paper does not address these or any other supposed migration crises directly; instead it considers how Anglo-American philosophers discuss them. Building on the work of Charles Mills, I argue that the terms in which many Anglo-American philosophers currently address migration justice neglect and even obstruct consideration of the ways in which current migration flows may be shaped by Euro-American colonialism and neo-colonialism. As a result of these exclusions, much of this philosophical literature has a systematic colonial bias. I propose that Anglo-American philosophers working on migration justice should revise our methods and our conceptual frameworks to enable exploring the possible extent of neo-colonial influence and its ethical implications. To develop less biased understandings of migration justice, Anglo-American philosophers must decolonize our political philosophy.


Alison JaggerProfessor Jaggar pioneered the introduction of feminist concerns into philosophy. In 1971, she taught what she thinks was the first-ever course in feminist philosophy. She co-founded Society for Women in Philosophy and Hypatia and chaired the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Women. In 1995, Jaggar was SWIP’s Distinguished Woman Philosopher and in 2011 she won the Gee Memorial Lectureship for advancing women, interdisciplinary scholarship and distinguished teaching. Jaggar was also a founder of the discipline of feminist studies and published several texts that helped define the field. Jaggar has taught at Miami University of Ohio, the University of Cincinnati (where she was Wilson Professor of Ethics), UCLA, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Rutgers University (where she held the New Jersey Chair in Women’s Studies), Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and the University of Oslo, Norway, where she is currently Professor Two and Research Co-ordinator at the Center for the Study of Mind in Nature. Jaggar has been awarded research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (twice), the Rockefeller Foundation, the AAUW, the University of Edinburgh, the Norwegian Research Council (shared) and the Australian Research Council (shared).

Benjamin and Elaine Whiteley Distinguished Lecture

Pacific University's Benjamin and Elaine Whiteley Distinguished Lecture is an annual offering of the College of Arts & Sciences funded through an Oregon Community Foundation grant. This year’s Whiteley lecture is presented by the college’s School of Arts and Humanities.

A longtime Portland business, civic and philanthropic leader who ran The Standard insurance company and several other companies throughout his career, Benjamin Whiteley, Hon. '01, was a Pacific University Trustee Emeritus who passed away two years ago at the age of 87.

Past Whiteley series lecturers include ethicist Peter Singer (2016), environmental activist Lois Gibbs (2014), Olympic athlete and civil rights activist John Carlos (Fall 2012), filmmaker and author Bill Carter (Spring 2012), evolutional biologist Sean Carroll (2011), and Eric Schlosser (2010), investigative journalist and author of Fast Food Nation.​

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