The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Ricardo Vega Leon

Professional Title: 

Graduate Student


Thompson 712


Office Hours: 

Fall 2020: By appointment,


B.A., Universidad de los Andes (Colombia), 2017


My research is in the political theory of empire and colonialism. I focus on colonial capitalism in the history of political thought and the historicity of Critical Theory in relation to colonialism.

I am interested in understanding how the political thought of empire and colonialism was concerned with the social relations of colonial capitalism. I sustain that the primitive accumulation of colonial-capital in its various elements like capital-labor relations, capital accumulation and the creation and reproduction of labor-power were central matters for the foundation and reproduction of imperialism and colonialism. I interpret this by highlighting how the social relations of colonial-capital were also a matter of race, racism and the difference of the colonized. I am currently working on a research project on Tocqueville's abolitionism as an issue of colonial primitive accumulation that transforms the enslaved people into wage-laborers in order to reproduce colonial capitalism.

Moreover, I am concerned with how to conceive of Critical Theory in relation to colonialism. Instead of sidelining or authorizing Critical Theorists to be sufficiently critical by making them fit for decolonial theory, I argue that they should be interpreted historically. This means that I examine their political theories in order to understand their insights for a critique of colonial-capitalist domination and exploitation, but also problematize their Eurocentrism. I am currently working on a paper about Herbert Marcuse's political theory that, while critical with his Eurocentrism, highlights Marcuse's insights for a critique of colonial-capitalist domination by way of interpreting his reflections about the Third World.