Visiting Fellow Michael Murphy in conversation

March 01, 2022

Michael Murphy obtained his PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute from September 2021 to March 2022. His research is focused on developing a Decolonial Philosophy of Law. Dr. Murphy’s first book, „A Post-Western Account of Critical Cosmopolitan Social Theory: Being and Acting in a Democratic World“, sets itself the ambitious task of rethinking the critical cosmopolitan social theory as developed by Gerard Delanty and Walter Mignolo by pollinating this dialogue with the work of the Japanese thinker Watsuji Tetsurō.

What is your current research focus?

My research engages with the growing fragility, vulnerability, and the perception of a lack of legitimacy of democracies, through the development of a decolonial philosophy of law. The decolonial critique, developed from the experiences of colonialism in Latin America, represents a significant challenge to social, political, and legal theories. However, it also offers us a way to think about how our economic, social, political, and legal institutions could be different, and in which all people’s lives and voices matter. The law was an instrument of imperialism, but it has also been used as an instrument of social, economic, cultural, and political repression, at home. So, rather than begin with notions of an ideal of law or law as an autonomous sphere of legal rules and procedures, my research aims to provide a legal imagination that draws on social processes for an alternative vision for the results of democratic participation.

What made you choose this institute for your research?

My doctorate was concerned with social and political theory. However, over the course of revising my thesis for publication, I became aware of the importance of law for the transformation of democratic practices. Ralf Michaels’ research group „Decolonial Comparative Law”, was a wonderfully unique place for me to draw on the expertise at the institute and to develop my multi-disciplinary research project. I was convinced to come to the Institute when Ralf Michaels asked me to push my ideas as far as they could go.

How would you describe the institute to someone who has never been here?

I have had nothing but support whilst at the Institute. The service department staff are amazing and patient. My colleagues have been a source of inspiration and genuinely nice people, and the facilities are the best I have ever had as an academic. The institutional staff are so helpful, the ethos is one of support and genuine collegiately. If, as an early career researcher, you want a place to allow your curiosity for your subject to be nurtured and rewarded, apply to come here.


Image: © Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law / Johanna Detering

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