Kai Yui Samuel Chan

Hi there, Samuel here! I am a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in political theory. Prior to coming to Berkeley, I completed an MSc in Political Theory at the London School of Economics and a BSSc in Government and Public Administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. My research can be divided into three areas: peoplehood, immigration, and approaches to political theory.


Peoplehood and a people's right to self-determination are often invoked to legitimate a global order of territorial sovereign states, but who constitute the people, and how can a people act to exercise their right to self-determination? My doctoral project complicates responses to these problems by zooming in on the experiences and practices of peoples who are significantly entangled geographically with other peoples, such as Palestinians, Jewish, Kurds, Tibetans, and Hong Kongers. I also show how assumptions made about peoplehood infect a web of related concepts, such as sovereignty, state, and territory.


As the modes, locations, and agents of bordering practices multiply, how should political theories of immigration account for these variations? One of my working papers develops a typology of bordering practices and reflects upon how this may compel both open and closed borders advocates to revise their arguments. In the future, I hope to turn to questions about diasporic communities.

Approaches to Political Theory

I am interested in uncovering methodological assumptions made by political theorists and social scientists in general, and in reflecting upon the philosophical grounds for these assumptions. In my recently published paper with Mark Bevir, we uncover the functionalist and interpretive assumptions made by deliberative systems scholars, and reconstruct two internally coherent but mutually exclusive ontologies for deliberative systems scholars to ground their work on. We are now working on a paper that investigates the role of social practices in interpretive approaches.

Please feel free to contact me at samuel_chan@berkeley.edu.