Neoliberal Modernity


February 2019, Berlin

Whereas the call for ‘open borders’ is more commonly associated with activists on the left, it has increasingly been used by neoliberal economists such as Glen Weyl, Eric Posner, and Branko Milanovic. They argue that attempts to address inequality within nation-states do little to alleviate global inequality and that what is needed instead is a global solution to this problem. The movement of individuals from poorer countries to richer ones, and the sending back of remittances, would, they suggest, reduce global inequality more effectively. Such movement is to be facilitated by a new policy of ‘open borders’ and institutionalised discrimination within richer nation-states that would alleviate the concerns of their citizens through the establishment of a new caste hierarchy that has been called ‘the Qatar model’. Postcolonial ‘others’ are perceived to undermine the spatial solidarities of national welfare states and the rights of national citizens are asserted against those of migrants and racialized citizens. However, rights which are spatially (and racially) limited should no longer be understood as rights, but as privileges maintained against the rights of others.

History Matters


July 2019, Oxford


In this talk, I address currently influential arguments about the movement of populations and economic inequalities, arguments which reproduce forms of political domination whose origins lie in a European colonialism that goes unacknowledged. What is most worrying is that these arguments are made by analysts who present themselves as liberal and progressive at the same time as they legitimise nationalist populism. I argue that any effective address of global inequality will require an understanding of the colonial histories that have produced it.