Entangled Peoplehood (Dissertation)

The notion of people first gained currency as a legitimation device for competing ruling authorities, but this legitimation function of people eventually calls for a more substantial concept of peoplehood and raises various questions about the possibility and legitimacy of peoplehood. In the discussion of these questions, while theorists do not necessarily assume that the boundaries of people map on to the boundaries of territorial sovereign states, their misalignment has not received sufficient attention.

The first part of my dissertation attends to that misalignment through the concept of entangled peoplehood. All peoples are geographically entangled with other peoples, albeit by varying degrees. I argue that we can gain more conceptual clarity about this entanglement by looking at the situation and practices of peoples who are entangled to a highly significant degree, peoples such as Palestinians, Jewish, Kurds, Tibetans, and Hong Kongers. Having established the concept of entangled peoplehood, I would use this as the ground to argue that the idea of peoplehood cannot answer questions about its possibility and legitimacy as long as it aspires to play the legitimation function currently given to it. This is a problem not only for the notion of peoplehood but also for ideas that it is used to legitimate, such as state, sovereignty, and territory.

The second part of my dissertation attempts to reconstruct a conception of peoplehood that can account for the entanglement of peoplehood and answer questions of its possibility and legitimacy satisfactorily. This could be done by giving the conception of peoplehood a more limited scope as to what it can legitimate. I concretize what that scope is and draw out the implications of my conception of peoplehood through asking two questions. What are the duties one has towards one's compatriots? What is the relationship between a people and the land they are on?

What is a Deliberative System? A Tale of Two Ontologies (with Mark Bevir). European Journal of Political Theory. August 2021.

Article available here.

Deliberative systems theorists have not explained what a deliberative system is. There are two problems here for deliberative systems theory: an empirical problem of boundaries (how to delineate the content of a deliberative system) and a normative problem of evaluation (how to evaluate the deliberation within a deliberative system). We argue that an adequate response to these problems requires a clear ontology. The existing literature suggests two coherent but mutually exclusive ontologies. A functionalist ontology postulates self-sustaining deliberative systems with their own functional goals and logics independent of human intentionality. In contrast, an interpretive ontology conceives of deliberative systems as the products of the beliefs and actions of the actors in the relevant practices – deliberative systems derive from human intentionality. We conclude by showing how these conflicting ontologies lead to different empirical and normative agendas.

doi: 10.1177/14748851211034106

Immigration and Borders (Working Paper)


Interpretivism and Social Practices (with Mark Bevir). (Working Paper)


Are Lockdowns Justified? A Complex Contractualist Framework (with Yue Shun Brian Wong). (Working Paper)