Department of Philosophy

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Koshka Duff

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts



I did my PhD at Sussex, a research masters at Birkbeck, and my undergraduate degree at Cambridge, all in philosophy. From 2009 to 2010 I was a Frank Knox Fellow at Harvard, where I studied German, gender studies, and intellectual history as well as philosophy. More recently, I was a DAAD Visiting Fellow at the Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main (2017), translating texts in the Max Horkheimer archive as part of my PhD project. I also have a Masters in Piano Performance from the Royal College of Music, which included an ERASMUS semester at the Universität der Künste, Berlin.

Teaching Summary


I enjoy running or contributing to discussion sessions/workshops with groups beyond the university, including sixth-form college and school groups, as well as self-organised political education and community projects. Recent discussion topics have included: 'What is democracy?' and 'Should we abolish the police?'

Please feel free to get in touch if your group might be interested in hosting a discussion or collaborating on an event.


I am happy to supervise graduate students working in any of my research areas and welcome expressions of interest.

I am currently working with Megan Drury on her doctoral project (co-supervised by Philip Goodchild) examining the notions of 'borders' and 'nature' and how these are intermixed by social powers to designate, construct and diagnose aberrant identities, as well as possible responses and resistances to these processes.

Here are the two modules I have designed & taught since arriving at Nottingham in 2018:

Gender, Justice & Society (1st year module)

What do feminists mean when they say, 'The personal is political'? Are they right? Can surveillance make us obedient subjects without us even realising? What is institutional racism? Is breaking the windows of the Conservative Party HQ a legitimate form of protest? Are borders unjust?

These are just some of the questions we will be thinking about on this course. We will develop a critical understanding of the answers given by thinkers across the political spectrum, from right-wing libertarians like Robert Nozick to socialist anarchists like Emma Goldman. At the same time, we will learn about the real political contexts in which all these ideas have been developed, deployed, and fought over - from the Peterloo Massacre to the civil rights movement, the invention of the police to the Paris Commune of 1871 to Black Lives Matter and the Youth Strike4Climate today.

Focus texts:

  • MICHEL FOUCAULT, 'Panopticism' in Discipline and Punish: The Birth Of The Prison (1975).
  • JOHN LOCKE, Chapters 1-5 of Second Treatise Of Government (c. 1680-82) & 'Essay on the Poor Law' (1697).
  • EMMA GOLDMAN, 'Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty' (1917) & What I Believe' (1908).
  • ANGELA DAVIS, 'Political Prisoners, Prisons, and Black Liberation' (1971).

Social & Political Philosophy (MA module) (co-taught 2019-20 with Katharine Jenkins)

What is 'the state' and what makes a state legitimate? Are existing states legitimate? When should the actions of non-state actors be considered 'political'? What, if anything, is the value of reasonableness in politics, and what does it mean to be 'reasonable' anyway? How should we understand fascism? What are the relations - historical, current, and conceptual - between liberalism and empire, violence and the law, justice and revolution? What role do gender, sexuality and race play in these processes and phenomena? What is the role of political philosophy in real politics? What should its role be? We will examine these and other key questions in social and political philosophy through the detailed study of writings from a diversity of traditions including critical theory, feminism, and contemporary analytic philosophy.

Focus Texts:

  • Lorna Finlayson, The Political Is Political: Conformity and the Illusion of Dissent in Contemporary Political Philosophy (2015)
  • Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961)
  • Andrea Dworkin, 'I Want A Twenty-Four Hour Truce In Which There Is No Rape' (1983)
  • Talia Mae Bettcher, 'Evil Deceivers and Make Believers: Transphobic Violence and the Politics of Illusion' (2007)
  • Maria Lugones, 'Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System' (2007)
  • Walter Benjamin, 'Critique of Violence' (1921).

Research Summary

My research is primarily in social and political philosophy. This includes feminist philosophy, philosophy of 'race', critical theory, and the history of political thought. I also (and connectedly)… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

My research is primarily in social and political philosophy. This includes feminist philosophy, philosophy of 'race', critical theory, and the history of political thought. I also (and connectedly) have strong interests in philosophy of music and German-language philosophical traditions. I aim to make my research accessible to as wide a range of audiences as possible, and to learn from people across disciplines and beyond academia.

I am currently working on a book, The Criminal Is Political, that looks at how the derogatory concept of 'the criminal' functions to exclude dissenting voices from the sphere of recognised political contestation.

My most recent publication is an edited collection, Abolishing the Police​​​​​​ (An Illustrated Introduction).


Koshka Duff & Katharine Jenkins, 2021. 'More Policing Won't Stop Gendered Violence'. Part 1 of 'Against the Carceral State: A Verso Roundtable'. Verso Blog.

Koshka Duff & Tom Kemp, 2020. 'Why Stop and Search Should Be Abolished'. Political Quarterly Blog.

Koshka Duff & Tom Kemp, 2020. 'Would 'Defund the Police' Work in the UK?' Novara Media.

Koshka Duff & Connor Woodman, 2020. 'We must abolish the police to create a more equal society'. Huck Magazine. Republished in DOPE! (Issue 12) as 'Abolishing the Police' and Ecohustler as 'A World Without Police'.

Koshka Duff, Oonagh Ryder & Sam Swann, 2018. 'Policing By Consent?' Interview on The Lockdown podcast, Novara Media.

Caroline Lowbridge, 2018. 'Degrading strip-search left me with PTSD', BBC News.


Koshka Duff & Mark Jago, 2021. 'What is policing?', 'Abolition or reform?' and 'Do the police keep us safe?'. Attic Philosophy.

Koshka Duff, Ife Thompson & Nicole D. Porter, 2020. 'In Conversation - The History of Black Uprisings in the US and UK', BLAM.

Koshka Duff & Connor Woodman, 2020. 'Criminal Justice & Policing'. LeftCon 2020.

Department of Philosophy

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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