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Marzouq Alnusf

PhD Candidate in the Department of Philosophy

Marzouq Alnusf

I hope my work encourages researchers in areas such as global justice, international relations, and development economics to pay more attention to the relevance of race and racism and their connection to capitalism.”

Photo credit: Malak Kaki

Marzouq Alnusf is a PhD student in the Department of Philosophy in the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences. His research interests include social and political philosophy, philosophy of race, and modern Arabic philosophy. He is a member of the Mellon Interdisciplinary Clusters in Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) and in Critical Theory. Marzouq also received a 2021–22 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for PhD candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. 

How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience?

My research is primarily in political philosophy, a field concerned with issues such as the justice of forms of government, policies, and social arrangements. My dissertation focuses on the significance of race to the justice of global political economic arrangements. I explore that topic historically, empirically, and conceptually. I suggest a model I call "global racial capitalism" to understand this significance, drawing from the Black radical tradition of thought, among other resources. I argue for the model’s utility for evaluating some of our global political economic conditions, such as global socioeconomic inequality.

What have been some of the most memorable twists and turns of your career?

I shifted between philosophy, economics, science, and math. In my high school, one had to choose a particular study track. I wanted the humanities and social science track, but my family advised (correctly, for me) that I take the science and math track. In college, I started out as a political science major because it was what I could identify with the most, but ultimately, I double majored in economics and philosophy. I then did an MA in economics and worked in the field professionally before starting my PhD in philosophy.

What is the biggest potential impact or implication of your work?

On the academic side, I hope my work encourages researchers in areas such as global justice, international relations, and development economics to pay more attention to the relevance of race and racism and their connection to capitalism. Racism, specifically white supremacy, has been fundamental in structuring global politics and economics for centuries, up to and including this moment. In terms of practical policy and change, I hope my research contributes to building a more just global political economic order.

Why Northwestern?

Many reasons! Some are that the Department of Philosophy is unique in having leading specialists in the somewhat disparate areas in which I am interested. I also am keen on departments that are pluralist, in the sense of fostering more than one philosophical tradition. Additionally, some of the interdisciplinary clusters and certificates at The Graduate School gave me a sense that there was an institutional structure for pursuing interdisciplinary graduate training at Northwestern. Then when I visited, I admired the sense of community among philosophy graduate students and the location of the campus.

Tell us about a current achievement or something you're working on that excites you.

I received a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. In my case, it is a collective achievement that would not have been possible without the support of family, mentors, institutions (especially publicly-funded ones), and fortuitous circumstances beyond my control.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

I am proud of not being limited to the mainstream of the fields in which I worked. My initial education in economics was based on a mainstream, neoclassical economics curriculum, which focuses on the study and largely positive evaluation of markets, private property, and individual self-interest. I felt there was a different side to the story, so I sought out and enrolled in a graduate program, where alternative, heterodox approaches to economics are taught. Similarly, in political philosophy, liberalism is a dominant paradigm. I find myself wanting to probe its potential and limitations, as well as explore other paradigms.

Published: November 2, 2021

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