Lawrence Hamilton

Lawrence Hamilton

Prof Lawrence Hamilton
Faculty of Humanities
Department of Politics


Lawrence Hamilton, a graduate of Cambridge University (MA, MPhil, PhD Cantab), is Professor (Research Focus) of Political Theory at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and an Affiliated Lecturer in Political Theory in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), Cambridge. At both he teaches various topics in the history of political thought, political theory and South African politics. He is also a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, where he has been a Mellon Research Fellow and Visiting Fellow. In late 2011 he was elected a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). As of 2009 he has been Editor-in-Chief of Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory. His research interests include various topics in contemporary political theory, as informed by real world politics and the history of political thought; the history of imperialism; and South African politics and political economy. He is the author or editor of five books, including The Political Philosophy of Needs (Cambridge University Press 2003), Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (Cambridge University Press 2014) and Are South Africans Free? (Bloomsbury 2014) and has published numerous articles and book chapters on aspects of political theory and philosophy, intellectual history, South African politics and the humanities. He will soon revert to working on a fourth single-authored book, Human Needs, Human Rights and Political Judgement. He is the recipient of a number of awards for research excellence including the Cambridge Gladstone Memorial Prize, the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) Presidents Award (2007-11), an NRF Blue Skies Award and UJ’s Excellence Award. He is now an NRF B1 rated (internationally acclaimed) researcher, directly following on from his NRF President's Award.

For more details on some of the above, please see the following link 

Selected Recent Publications


Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (Cambridge University Press 2014)

Are South Africans Free? (Bloomsbury 2014)

The Political Philosophy of Needs (Cambridge University Press 2003 [2007 – paperback])

Puzzles in contemporary political philosophy: An introduction to Sotuh African students, with Louise Vincent and Joleen Steyn-Kotze (Van Schaik Publishers 2012)

Intellectual Traditions in South Africa: Ideas, Institutions and Individuals, ed. P. Vale and L. Hamilton (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press forthcoming 2013)


​'The Promise of Political Theory in South Africa', Politikon, 40, 2 (forthcoming)

'Collective Unfreedom in South Africa', Contemporary Politics, 17. 4 (December 2011)

‘Debt, Democracy and Representation in South Africa’, with Nicola Viegi, Representation 45. 2 (2009)

‘“(I’ve Never Met) a Nice South African”: virtuous citizenship and popular sovereignty’, Theoria 119 (2009)

‘Human Needs and Political Judgment’, in New Waves in Political Philosophy eds Zurn & de Bruin (Palgrave 2009)

‘Needs and Agency’, in Handbook of Economics and Ethics, eds Peil and Staveren (Edward Elgar Publishing 2008)

 ‘The Context and Argument of The Political Philosophy of Needs’ (Symposium on The Political Philosophy of Needs), The South African Journal of Philosophy 25. 3 (2006)

‘Needs, Rights and Political Judgment: Response to Critics’, The South African Journal of Philosophy 25. 3 (2006)

‘Human Needs, Land Reform and the South African Constitution’, Politikon, 33. 2 (2006)

‘The Political Philosophy of Needs and Weak States’, in Development Dilemmas, eds Ayogu & Ross (Routledge 2005)

 ‘“Civil Society”: Critique and Alternative’, in Global Civil Society and Its Limits, ed S. Halperin (Palgrave 2003)

‘A Theory of True Interests in the Work of Amartya Sen’, Government and Opposition 34. 4 (1999)

Research Awards

UJ Excellence Research Award (2013 - 2016)
NRF B1 Research Rating (2007 - 2011)
NRF Blue Skies Award (2011 - 2012)
NRF Presidents Award (2007 - 2011)
University of KwaZulu-Natal University Book Prize 2004 for The Political Philosophy of Needs
Mandela Cambridge Bursary (1997 - 2000), for PhD Research, Cambridge Commonwealth Trusts
Gladstone Memorial Prize (1996) for top undergraduate (honours) dissertation in the faculties of History, Economics, and Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge

      Masters and Doctoral Supervision


     1) Ayesha Omar, ‘Borders and States: Territoriality in the
          Political Thought of the Late Middle Ages’ (Full Thesis
Cum Laude, 2009)

      2) Robert Tyrrell, ‘“Freedom” in America: The Political Thought
          of Madison, Hamilton, and Jefferson’ (Masters, IIi, 2008)

     3) Ahmed Jazbhay, ‘Toleration and Civil Religion in Locke,
         Spinoza and Rousseau’ (Masters, IIi, 2008)

     4) Nkosinathi Ndlela, ‘Freedom as Power: The Case of Poverty’
         (Full Thesis Masters, IIi, January 2013)

     5) Alexandra Barry, ‘The Moral Psychology of Human Rights in
         South Africa’ (Full Thesis Masters, Cum Laude, April 2013)


Masters (full thesis)

1) Francois Janse van Rensburg, ‘Republicanism and Monarchism in The Dutch Republic’ (submission end 2013)

2) Hannah Winckler, ‘Locke’s Conception of the State versus Environmentialism’ (submission end 2013)


3) Ramzy Baroud, ‘Political Elitism and The People: the case of Palestine’ (co-supervision with Farid Esack)

4) Romain Francis, ‘Justice as Recognition in the Ecological Community’

5) Ahmed Jazbhay, ‘Civil Religion in South Africa: Mandela Through the Lens of Machiavelli and Rousseau’

6) Maggie Langlands, ‘South Africa: Welfare State versus Developmental State’

7) Helgard Muller, ‘Hayek and Realism in Political Theory’

8) Ayesha Omar, ‘Legitimacy and Sovereignty in the Political Thought of Marsilius of Padua and Ibn Rushd’

9) Seroala Tseou, ‘Constitutionalism and the South African Constitution: The Chapter Nine Institutions’

10) Robert Tyrrell, ‘From Ancient to Modern Freedom: Republican Freedom in America’s Founding Fathers’

Contact Details

Tel: +27 (0)11 559 7442
Fax: +27 (0)11 559 3038
Auckland Park Kingsway Campus: C-Ring 704







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