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“Solidarity with the oppressed? Challenges of solidarity in contexts of structural injustice”

Catherine Lu will give a talk intitled “Solidarity with the oppressed? Challenges of solidarity in contexts of structural injustice”, at the Victoria Colloquium of the University of Victoria, on September 29, 2023.


Calls for solidarity with the oppressed are ubiquitous. Institutions have increasingly issued statements of solidarity with the oppressed, and a variety of practices, from signing online petitions to mass social protests, have been characterized as examples of solidarity with the oppressed. This paper has 3 parts, answering the following questions: (1) What does solidarity look like in conditions of structural injustice? Is solidarity in such contexts emancipatory, instrumentally and non-instrumentally valuable? (2) Should we characterize cooperative activity between the privileged and oppressed as solidarity? What are the benefits and pitfalls of doing so? If we try to conceptualize privileged-oppressed cooperation as solidarity, what are the criteria for the privileged to act in solidarity with the oppressed? (3) What makes a solidaristic society? If the correct aim of solidarity is to transform unjust social structures, what makes a solidaristic society distinct from a just society?


Catherine Lu is Professor of Political Science at McGill University, and Director of the Yan P. Lin Centre, as well as coordinator of the Lin Centre’s Research Group on Global Justice. Her research interests intersect political theory and international relations, focusing on critical and normative theoretical studies of colonial international order, structural injustice, and global justice; alienation and reconciliation;  and cosmopolitanism and the world state. She is the author of articles on these themes, as well as two books: Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2017), which won four book prizes, and Just and Unjust Interventions in World Politics: Public and Private (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

Pre-Seminar reading

Reconciliation as Non-Alienation