Joseph Wright of Derby, “Arkwright’s Cotton Mills by Night” (Oil on Canvas, 1782)


Refereed Journal Article

“A Factory Afield: Capitalism and Empire in John Locke’s Political Economy,” Modern Intellectual History 19, no. 1 (2022): 1-28 (available here).

Refereed Book Chapter

“The Ableist Contract: Intellectual Disability and the Limits of Justice in Kant’s Political Thought,” Disability and Political Theory, edited by Barbara Arneil and Nancy J. Hirschmann (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 43–78 (Available here).

Book Reviews

“Review of Locke Among the Radicals: Liberty and Property in the Nineteenth Century by Daniel Layman (Oxford University Press, 2020),” Political Theory (forthcoming; available here).

“Review of Colonial Capitalism and the Dilemmas of Liberalism by Onur Ulas Ince (Oxford University Press, 2018),” Contemporary Political Theory 20, no. 3 (2021): 110-114 (available here).

Book Chapter Translation (from French)

Céline Spector, “Liberty,” The Cambridge Companion to Montesquieu, edited by Sharon Krause and Keegan Callanan (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming).

Céline Spector, “Montesquieu and the History of Rights,” The Cambridge History of Rights, Vol. 4, edited by Jennifer Pitts and Dan Edelstein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming).

Public Essays and Interviews

“The Flash Artists who Cybersquatted the Whitney Biennial,” Rhizome (August 2015; available here).

“A Black Market for People ‘Consumed by the Internet,’” Rhizome (September 2015; available here).




Factories of Modernity: Political Thought in the Capitalist Epoch (preparing for review).

Edited Volume

Intellectual Histories of Global Capitalism, co-edited with Paul Cheney (in development).


“Absent Factories: Rethinking Theories of Postindustrial Capitalism” (Revise and Resubmit).

“Postindustrial Paradigms: Imagined Futures of the Factory System in Midcentury Social Thought” (preparing for review).

“Antislavery Utopias: From Colony to Quilombo” (preparing for review).

“Political Thought in the Capitalist Epoch: Social History and Linguistic Context” (in development)



Factories of Modernity

My ongoing book project, Factories of Modernity: Political Thought in the Capitalist Epoch, argues that the factory system acted as a decisive stage for the historical development of political thought and practice across Britain and the Atlantic world from 1688 to 1807. Moving between canonical texts and unpublished manuscripts, each of my chapters presents an image of the factory as a microcosm of modernity by turning to texts and spaces in which capitalism was originally articulated and practiced, both by political thinkers and a range of lesser-known political actors, from factory owners, inventors, and colonial officials to painters, abolitionists, and free workers of color who resisted Atlantic slavery in the late eighteenth century. By reading these perspectives as forgotten archives of capitalist modernity, I show that factories are not restricted to the giant assembly plants of nineteenth-century Britain. Rather, the historical spaces I call “factories of modernity” encompass an unfamiliar plurality of pre-industrial environments—workhouses, manufactories, plantations, colonies—where labor was performed, reproduced, and disciplined. In redefining the factory as a multiplicity of spaces in which influential ideas and ordinary experiences of labor, aesthetics, and race were co-constituted, I provide an alternative account of capitalist society that discloses and confronts the salient yet neglected ways in which corporations at the heart of our “postindustrial” economy—Google and Amazon among them—are organized through a racialized politics of factory production.

Badlands of Utopia

My second book project, Badlands of Utopia: Empire’s Lost Futures of Work, will explore how ideas of progress and improvement became part of a conceptual grammar of imperial expansion and economic growth that European utopian thinkers and projectors deployed to articulate and implement ideal visions of society and work beyond Europe. In showing how utopian authors developed new norms of work as remedies to the social crises of their day, the book will uncover the historical ties between utopian imaginaries in Europe, the colonial projects they informed across the Atlantic, and the acts of resistance they sparked from Maroons in Africa and Latin America. The book contributes to political theory and the history of political thought by reading the utopian tradition—historically—as a key source for defenses and critiques of capitalism, slavery, and empire, and—conceptually—as a set of vital reflections that bear directly on ongoing debates about the future of work. Each chapter will pair a detailed study of utopian thought with a historical examination of colonial “projects” for utopian settlements and resistance movements against these ventures by Black insurrectionists, which I read as an anti-colonial iteration of utopianism. Rather than abstract thought experiments, then, utopias emerge as material remnants of historical discourses and practices invested in fashioning industrious workers out of populations who, on account of their alleged “idleness,” were said to have left their labor-power and natural resources in a condition of “waste,” ripe for capitalist extraction and colonial dispossession within what I call the “badlands of utopia.”