Profile picture for user Desmond Jagmohan

Desmond Jagmohan

Assistant Professor of Political Science
796 Social Sciences Building
Office Hours
Personal Statement

I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. I specialize in the history of American and African American political thought, American intellectual history, and the history of political thought. I also have research and teaching interests in theories of property, slavery, nationalism and self-determination, and Caribbean political theory.  My current research focuses on political and moral agency under conditions of extreme oppression. At the moment I am completing my first book, Dark Virtues: Booker T. Washington’s Tragic Realism (under contract with Princeton University Press). Drawing on several years of archival research, I recover Washington as a virtue theorist of the oppressed. I have also begun working on my second book, which is tentatively titled, Veiled Agency. It reads Harriet Jacobs’s slave narrative as a work of moral and political theory that conceives of slavery as a distinct rather than merely an extreme form of oppression. It also reconstructs the tethered and often unseen forms of agency available to enslaved people. Chapter One, which is forthcoming from Journal of Politics, argues that ownership, rather than domination, constitutes slavery's deeper wrong. So far, my research has been published in Journal of PoliticsPolitical TheoryPerspectives on PoliticsPolitics, Groups, and IdentitiesContemporary Political Theory, and Boston Review

I was the winner of the APSA Best Dissertation Award from the Race, Ethnicity and Politics Section (2015) and was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University (2018). Prior to arriving at Berkeley, I was Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where I delivered the 2018 Constitution Day Lecture and was awarded the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Preceptorship in the University Center for Human Values. I hold an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. 


"Peculiar Property: Harriet Jacobs on the Nature of Slavery," Journal of Politics  (Forthcoming 2021). 

“Between Race and Nation: Marcus Garvey and the Politics of Self-Determination,” Political Theory (January 2020): 271–302. 

“Anger and the Politics of the Oppressed,” Boston Review Forum On Anger, Vol. 45, No. 1 (January 2020): 40–46. 

“Booker T. Washington and the Politics of Deception.” In African American Political Thought: A Collected History. Eds. Melvin Rogers and Jack Turner (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020), 167–191.

“Race and the Social Contract: Charles Mills on the Consensual Foundations of White Supremacy,” Politics, Groups, and Identities, Vol. 3, No. 3 (September 2015): 488–503.



Research Interests
History of Political Thought
American Political Thought
African American Political Thought
Race and American Political Development
Ph.D., Government, Cornell University
M.A., Government, Cornell University
B.A., Philosophy and History, Northeastern Illinois University