Law and Science Fellow | J.D.-Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science
I am a joint J.D.-Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Northwestern University. I research and teach at the intersection of political theory, law, and American politics.
I am currently a Law and Science Fellow at Northwestern's Pritzker School of Law and a Graduate Fellow in Legal Studies. I previously held a pre-doctoral fellowship at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.
I was born and raised in Chicago. I did my B.A. at Oberlin College, and I am completing my J.D. and Ph.D. at Northwestern University.
Before beginning my doctoral studies, I worked as a Special Education in Chicago Public Schools for several years. That experience, as well as my later work in civil rights law, continues to ground my research and writing.
I talk about my research in relation to these experiences in this recent interview.
Drawing on political theory, American politics, and law, my work brings together African American political thought, jurisprudence, legal and intellectual history, and political economy to explore the development of civil rights in relation to capitalism, racial slavery, colonization and empire, and, especially, caste, in the Atlantic world since the eighteenth century. The unifying aim of this research is to diagnose sources of racial and intersectional injustice—both past and present—and to provide theoretical frameworks for realizing a more just society today.
The Spirit of Caste: Recasting the History of Civil Rights
My dissertation offers the first, monograph-length history of the public meaning of civil rights. Today, scholars and activists alike despair that civil rights failed to achieve social justice. In doing so, however, they tend to elide the ways that historically marginalized groups constructed their meaning. By contrast, my dissertation recovers the original meaning of civil rights from the political thought of African American leaders in the abolitionist, women's suffrage, and long civil rights movements. I argue that, in the minds of the ordinary citizens and non-citizens in these movements, civil rights were legal protections against caste, which they understood as a ban on social mobility. By reconstructing civil rights to protect citizens from caste, I contend, we can reclaim their lost promise as tools for the advancement of racial and intersectional justice.
1. Ferguson, Lucien. “From Love to Care: Arendt’s Amor Mundi in the Ethical Turn.” Political Theory, (July 2022).
This article offers a novel account of a key concept in Hannah Arendt’s political thought: amor mundi. In political theory’s ethical turn, theorists have increasingly turned to amor mundi as a source of ethical guidance and inspiration for politics. However, in doing so, they have elided Arendt’s distinct understanding of care. This article recovers Arendt’s understanding of amor mundi as care for the world by reconstructing the central concerns of her dissertation, Der Liebesbegriff bei Augustin, and tracing them to the “Crisis” essays of Between Past and Future. It shows that amor mundi emerges in the dissertation as part of a question: if love is our fundamental orientation toward the world, how can we love the world without instrumentalizing it? The two “Crisis” essays provide the following answer: if love is to avoid— and perhaps militate against—the instrumentalization of the world, it must take the form of care. Following this analysis, this article contends that the contribution of amor mundi to the ethical turn is best understood, not as the ethos needed to guide action in the political realm, but as a key pre- or nonpolitical ethos needed to conserve the world where politics takes place—and thus the very possibility of politics.
Works in Progress
Ferguson, Lucien. “A Cruel and Malignant Spirit of Caste’: Frederick Douglass’ Caste Theory of Racism” (under review).
Ferguson, Lucien. “Coerced Consent: Refashioning Consent After Schneckloth v. Bustamonte” (in preparation for submission).
Ferguson, Lucien. “Beyond Property in Man: Slavery, Caste, and the Thirteenth Amendment” (in progress).
Ferguson, Lucien. “On Repressive and Non-Repressive Law: Herbert Marcuse’s Legacy for Abolitionist Politics” (forthcoming in The Marcusean Mind).
Ferguson, Lucien. “W.E.B. Du Bois” (forthcoming in the Encyclopedia of Critical Political Science).
Awards, Fellowships, & Grants
Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, Northwestern University
Center for Legal Studies, Northwestern University
Northwestern Journal of Human Rights, Pritzker School of Law, Northwestern University
Full-Tuition Law School Scholarship
Full-Tuition Law School Scholarship
Pritzker School of Law
Law & Science Fellow
Pritzker School of Law
Minar Memorial Summer Award
January 2023 - June 2024
Graduate Fellow in Legal Studies
Department of Political Science, Northwestern University
John D. Lewis Memorial Prize for Work in Political Theory
John F. Oberlin Scholarship
As a Rule 711 Licensed lawyer I worked on matters related to human and civil rights at the Community Justice and Civil Rights Clinic and Children and Family Justice Center, both of which are housed at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law.
As part of this work, I have assisted in drafting complaints and motions for state and federal court cases involving constitutional claims against the City of Chicago and State of Illinois; an ordinance for local advocacy groups in Chicago; a clemency petition for an individual sentenced as a juvenile to life without parole; and policy memoranda for the Illinois State Legislature relating to retroactivity and sentencing enhancements for firearms possession.
Department of Political Science
Scott Hall 2nd Floor, 601 University Place Evanston, IL 60208