KWI – Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (Kulturwissenschaftliches Intitut Essen, KWI)

Research areas

Project Diversity, Power, and Justice: KWI-Subproject “Ubuntu and the Struggle for Social Justice”

Principal Investigator(s): Prof. Dr. Ina Kerner (Käte Hamburger Kolleg/ Centre for Global Cooperation Research) and Dr. Franziska Dübgen (Universität Kassel)
Staff members: Victor C. Nweke (KWI-Subproject “Ubuntu and the Struggle for Social Justice”) and Kawther Karoui (Universität Kassel Subproject “Justice and the Critique of Occidentalism in Contemporary Maghreb Political Theory”)


Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Duration: 01/2017 - 01/2020

Group Photo at DOCUMENTA Exhibition in Kassel after Project Meeting
From left to right: Ms. Kawther Karoui, Mr. Victor Nweke, Prof. Ina Kerner and Dr. Franziska Dübgen

Constructivist theories of justice are increasingly characterized by a transnational focus, and hence claim validity for human beings irrespective of their sociocultural and geopolitical background. Nevertheless, it is predominantly European and Anglo-American scholarship that dominates the academic debate on justice. The hermeneutical horizon of this discussion therefore remains limited, as it primarily draws on experiences stemming from metropolitan spaces within industrialized, secular modern countries. Against this backdrop, this research project aims at broadening the normative justice debate. It looks at alternative intellectual traditions in order to respond to the global diversity of experiences of injustices. It particularly focuses on theories of justice from postcolonial contexts in the global South that have hardly been taken up in the German-language academic literature so far: the South African justice grammar of Ubuntu, and Arab-Islamic debates on justice in the Maghreb. The research project will operate in close dialogue with academics from collaborating institutions in South Africa, Tunisia, and Morocco. On a methodological level, this transcultural approach aims at contributing to the emerging research fields of Comparative Political Theory and Postcolonial Political Theory.

The subproject on the debates on justice in the Maghreb is located at Universität Kassel. Subproject located at KWI concentrates on “Ubuntu and the Struggle for Social Justice”.