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Siddhant Issar Receives APSA Leo Strauss Award for Best Dissertation in Political Philosophy

Siddhant Issar, UMass PhD 2021 graduate, currently an Assistant Professor of Political Theory at the University of Louisville, won the 2022 Leo Strauss Award for his dissertation on "Thinkins with Black Lives Matter: Towards a Critical Theory of Racial Capitalism." His research and teaching interests lie in modern and contemporary political theory, particularly Black, Indigenous, and anti-colonial thought, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the politics of race, class, and empire. In his scholarship, Issar delves into the entanglement between capitalist political economy and racial/colonial domination, as well as the theoretical insights that social movements generate against such interlinked domination. He is currently working on a book manuscript, titled Theorizing Racial Capitalism in the Era of Black Lives Matter. The citation from the Award Committee reads: Siddhant Isser’s “Thinking with Black Lives Matter: Towards a Critical Theory of Racial Capitalism” is a superb argument for moving beyond analyses of contemporary oppression that think through only one critical lens (i.e. “anti-racist” or “anti-capitalist” or “anti-colonial”). Taking his starting point from the Black Lives Matter movement, which relies on an expansive understanding of racial capitalism (as necessarily entwined with settler colonialism), Isser shows the importance of a robust theory of racial capitalism for political theory by way of engagement with a wide range of thinkers (e.g. Marx, Cedric Robinson, David Harvey, Wendy Brown, Jodi Melamed). Isser’s dissertation shines especially in its incisive critique of major thinkers of neoliberalism for their failures to sufficiently analyze the importance of race, and its brilliant analysis of “racial/colonial primitive accumulation.” Isser’s dissertation is most important, though, because it gives political theorists something they really need: a theory of racial capitalism that they can use and put to work in analyzing contemporary oppression. (Political Science Now, 09/18/2022)

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