Siddhant Issar Receives the 2022 Leo Strauss Award

The Leo Strauss Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best doctoral dissertation in political philosophy.   

Siddhant Issar is an Assistant Professor of Political Theory at the University of Louisville.  His research and teaching interests lie in modern and contemporary political theory, particularly Black, Indigenous, and anti-colonial thought, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the politics of race, class, and empire.  In his scholarship, Issar delves into the entanglement between capitalist political economy and racial/colonial domination, as well as the theoretical insights social movements generate against such interlinked domination.  He is currently working on a book manuscript, titled Theorizing Racial Capitalism in the Era of Black Lives Matter.  During the academic year 2021-2022, Issar was a Rising Scholar postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia.  He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an M.A. from The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Citation from the Award Committee: 

Siddhant Isser’s “Thinking with Black Lives Matter: Towards a Critical Theory of Racial Capitalism” is a superb argument for moving beyond analyses of contemporary oppression that think through only one critical lens (i.e. “anti-racist” or “anti-capitalist” or “anti-colonial”).  Taking his starting point from the Black Lives Matter movement, which relies on an expansive understanding of racial capitalism (as necessarily entwined with settler colonialism), Isser shows the importance of a robust theory of racial capitalism for political theory by way of engagement with a wide range of thinkers (e.g. Marx, Cedric Robinson, David Harvey, Wendy Brown, Jodi Melamed).  Isser’s dissertation shines especially in its incisive critique of major thinkers of neoliberalism for their failures to sufficiently analyze the importance of race, and its brilliant analysis of “racial/colonial primitive accumulation.”  Isser’s dissertation is most important, though, because it gives political theorists something they really need: a theory of racial capitalism that they can use and put to work in analyzing contemporary oppression.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Dr. Lida E. Maxwell (chair) of Boston University, Ivan Andre Ascher of University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Dr. Jane A. Gordon of the University of Connecticut, Storrs.


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