A Special Issue on Justice, Freedom, & Revolution

Turning on the Light with Interdisciplinary Humanities in Dark Times

This Special Issue of JSPE showcases the amazing creative academic work done in the past two years by Emory College undergraduates, majoring and minoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Law (PPL). The works you will find in this issue were originally their final projects in a series of interdisciplinary undergraduate courses that I have taught since Fall 2020. I curated the works in this special issue on the key concepts of history of political philosophy, namely, on justice, freedom, and revolution. 

For their final projects in these classes, I asked the students to envision an interdisciplinary and public-facing component to their philosophical analyses of a number of political concepts. Students in response produced a wide genre of works ranging from poetry, short stories, Op-Eds and photo essays, pamphlets and zines, playlists, to drawings, paintings, collages, and short videos, showcasing not only their creativity and academic excellence, but also the unique ability of interdisciplinary humanities to analyze complex issues and offer imaginative solutions by using multimedia resources and methods. 

Works in this Special Issue revolve around the following three premises on justice, freedom, and revolution. Following are those premises that we have established by means of presentations, discussions, conversations, and collaborations in and outside the classroom:

JUSTICE has to be studied as intertwined with definitions and histories of injustice, as found in the ideas of the social contract, the racial contract, the sexual contract, racial capitalism, modernity/coloniality, whiteness as property, and cisheteropatriarchy. 

FREEDOM is best understood when we talk about its history as located in those of slavery, labor, property, land, colonialism and conquest, oppression, and the prison industrial complex. 

The history of the American REVOLUTION, which provided a case study for the classes on the concept of revolution, is best analyzed by going back to 1492 (the invention of “Americas” through “discovery,” conquest, and colonization) and 1619 (first enslaved Africans landing on Virginia coast). 

Authors here reflect on topics and themes ranging from social media activism to the Metaverse, from K-12 History Education in the U.S. to the political meaning of our identities, climate crisis and its long history, faces of structural and intersecting oppressions in every day life in the U.S., meaning of freedom under conditions of white supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy, the relationship between Twitter and democracy, women’s invisible labor, immigrant and minor feelings, coloniality as an ongoing regime of truth and identity, whiteness as property, to prison industrial complex. Importantly and at the same time, each work functions as an interdisciplinary introduction of important historical and political concepts to a broader audience, such as theories of distributive and reparative and transformative justice, concept of the racial capitalism, concept of a racial-sexual contract, fundamental demands of the Black Panther Party Program, a brief history and primer on Identity Politics and the premises of CRT (Critical Race Theory).

When planning these interdisciplinary humanities courses in the midst of tumultuous and dark times (that we can trace back to March 2020), I had not counted on the pleasant surprise that I have come to appreciate again and again: the uncanny ability of GenZ’ers to take infinitely complex phenomena, and unpack and communicate them in unparalleled clarity. It was mostly this ingenuity of my students that gave rise to the idea for a Special Issue for JSPE, transforming it into an Interdisciplinary Humanities Public Project, which you are now browsing! Students and I also owe a debt of gratitude to our teaching assistant, Allison Garippa, who first imagined these works collected in a Zine, as well as our Philosophy alum Sarah Lee, who had first built in the infrastructure of an undergrad run journal under the umbrella of JSPE.

To paraphrase Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, these students’ breathtaking works proved that community “can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers how to turn on the light.” I am proud of each person who contributed to and collaborated on this issue, for reminding all of us that even in the darkest times, we can find community in each other, and together we can turn on the light with interdisciplinary humanities.

See for yourselves!


Plato, Republic  

Aristotle, Politics 

Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan

John Locke, The Second Treatise on the Civil Government 

Enrique Dussel, The  Invention of the Americas 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the  Origin of Inequality 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau,  Émile: On Education

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of a Woman’s Rights

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

Karl Marx, The Capital 

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The  Communist Manifesto 

Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract

Charles Mills, The Racial Contract 

Sylvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch

United States Declaration of Independence 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton et al., Declaration of  Sentiments

Frederick Douglass, “What, to the  American Slave, is the  Meaning of 4th of July?”

The Memorial of Cherokee  Nation 

Thomas Jefferson, excerpt from Notes  on the State of Virginia 

Benjamin Banneker’s Letter to Jefferson  

Angela Davis, Women, Race, Class

Cheryl Harris, “Whiteness as Property” 

Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric

Iris Marion-Young, “Five Faces of Oppression” in Justice and the Politics of Difference

Martin King, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” 

Barack Obama, “A More Perfect Union”

Black Panthers Ten Point Plan 

Combahee River Collective Statement 

Malcolm X, “The Ballot  or the Bullet”

Walter Johnson, “To Remake the World: Slavery, Racial Capitalism, and  Justice”

Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations”

Cathy Park Hong, Minor Feelings

Kimberlé Crenshaw, “When Blackness is a Preexisting Condition” 

Robin Kelley, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

Adrienne Rich, “On Politics of Location”

Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution

adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy

Nicole Hannah-Jones et al, The 1619 Project: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html 

  • BBC: In Our Time Podcast Series

Podcast episode on the concept of the Social Contract:


Podcast episode on 1550 Valladolid Debate:


Podcast episode on Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations:


Podcast episode on Marx: 


  • Slavery and the University: A Podcast Series by Emory –

Episode 46 about Emory University’s past, present, and future:


  • Intersectionality Matters Podcast Series by Kimberlé Crenshaw

Podcast Episode on COVID-19:


  • History of Philosophy without any Gaps

Podcast Episodes on Plato and Aristotle’s Political Philosophy:




  • Lord of the Flies (1963) by Peter Brook
  • The Thirteenth Documentary 
  • Race: The Power of  an Illusion: Episodes 1 through 3 
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguards of the Revolution
  • Chisholm ‘72: Unbought and Unbossed
  • Frederick Douglass’s descendants read his speech in 2020 – video:


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