Department of Philosophy

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Koshka Duff

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts



I have been a lecturer in Philosophy at UoN since 2018.

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. In 2017 I was a DAAD Visiting Fellow at the Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, 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 workshop topics have included: 'What is democracy?', 'Should we abolish the police?', and 'How To Write A Manifesto'.

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 PhD projects in any of my research areas, workload permitting, and welcome expressions of interest. I am currently working with three doctoral researchers:

- Megan Drury (co-supervised with Philip Goodchild), whose project examines 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.

- Ewan Swift (co-supervised with Chris Woodard), whose thesis explores the moral and political dimensions of microaggressions, and how they challenge the ways that we conceptualise responsibility and responses to harm.

- Oliver Fairey (co-supervised with Greg Mason and Zach Hoskins), who is looking at political realism/utopianism debates and the philosophy of homelessness.


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)

What is 'the state' and what makes a state legitimate? Are existing states legitimate? When and how and by whom may they legitimately be resisted? Does legitimacy even matter?

When should the actions of non-state actors be considered 'political'? What voices and possibilities are excluded by dominant notions of politics? What, if anything, is the value of reasonableness in politics, and what does it mean to be 'reasonable' anyway? What about the value of unruliness, transgression, imagination?

What are the relations - historical, current, and conceptual - between liberalism and empire, violence and law, justice and revolution? How do race, gender, sexuality and disability figure in these processes and phenomena? How should fascism and other far-right political formations be understood and resisted?

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, Black radical and decolonial thought, 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)
  • Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (2021)
  • Walter Benjamin, 'Critique of Violence' (1921).

Research Summary

My research is primarily in social and political philosophy. This includes feminism, critical theory, decolonial and Black radical traditions, queer and trans liberation, and the history of political… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

My research is primarily in social and political philosophy. This includes feminism, critical theory, decolonial and Black radical traditions, queer and trans liberation, and the history of political thought. I also (and connectedly) have strong interests in philosophy of music and German-language philosophical traditions.

At the moment I am focusing especially on issues around policing, dissent, and abolition. I am working on a book, The Criminal Is Political: Popular Illegalities and Shameless Solidarities, that looks at how the derogatory concept of 'the criminal' functions to exclude dissenting voices from the sphere of recognised political contestation.

Some of my recent publications are an edited collection, Abolishing the Police​​​​​​ (shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing), and an article in The Spectator, 'It's Time to Defund the Police'.

Click on the PUBLICATIONS tab for my journal articles and book chapters.

I aim to make my research accessible to as wide a range of audiences as possible, to learn from people across disciplines and beyond academia, and to explore and communicate political-philosophical ideas and experiences in creative ways. This includes making music, writing and translating poetry, collaborating with visual artists, and writing about the artists and poets I love, among other things. You can hear me talking about music and politics on the 'Things Musicians Don't Talk About' podcast.

I play piano and write songs with Notts band Stolen Goods - @stolengoodsband on Instagram and Spotify.


Koshka Duff, 2022. 'It's Time to Defund the Police'. The Spectator.

Koshka Duff, 2022. 'The Met Just Apologised After Strip-Searching Me. I Don't Believe a Word of It.' Novara Media.

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'.


I have spoken about the politics of policing across a diversity of media platforms. Coverage links to a legal case I won in 2021 against the London Metropolitan Police for 'sexist, derogatory, and unacceptable' language used during my strip search in 2013.

Print interviews include: The Guardian; Glamour; The Mirror; and the Daily Mail.

Video interviews include:


Koshka Duff, Becka Hudson, Tanzil Chowdhury & Arianne Shahvisi, 2021. 'Abolishing the Police'. Online event hosted by Left Book Club. 17 November 2021.

Koshka Duff, Tanzil Chowdhury, Cradle Community & CAPE (Campaign Against Prison Expansion), 2021. 'Abolition As Liberation'. Live stream of event at Edinburgh Radical Bookfair. 14 November 2021.

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.

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


Stolen Goods, 2023. 4 Fights EP. Music and lyrics by Koshka Duff & Tom Kemp. Available on Bandcamp.

Stolen Goods, 2022. 'The Accidental' [single] & 'Drunken Boat' [single]. Music and lyrics by Koshka Duff & Tom Kemp. Available on Spotify and other streaming platforms.

Koshka Duff, 2022. 'Now' [poem]. In Phil Crockett Thomas (ed.), Abolition Science Fiction. A collection by activists and scholars involved in prison abolition and transformative justice in the UK.

Stolen Goods, 2022. 'Decay' [lyrics]. In David Grundy (ed.), Kruk Book: An Anthology for Frances Kruk, London: Materials.

Koshka Duff, 2022. 'Ticking Off the Big Three'. Part of the exhibition Refuse to Collaborate by Sophie Carapetian at the Stadtgalerie Bern, Switzerland.

Koshka Duff & Connor Woodman, 2022. 'All Prisoners Are Political Prisoners'. In Phil Crockett Thomas, Thomas Abercromby & Rosie Roberts (eds.), The Moon Spins the Dead Prison. An essay collection published as part of the Glasgow-based School of Abolition art and activism project.

Koshka Duff, Forthcoming. 'for 'I love you' say f*ck the police": Abolition in and through the poetry of Sean Bonney'. In ArtiCHOKE #Ruins. ​ArtiCHOKE is a Berlin-based reading series for contemporary poetry and translation. #Ruins is a special issue on police, border, and gender abolition. Pre-publication version available on [NB Quotations from Sean's poetry, including the title of this piece, must be understood in their literary context and do not reflect the views of any institution with which I am affiliated.]

Koshka Duff & Sophie Carapetian, 2021. 'An inquiry into how to live when the future is foreclosed'. Poems by KD / artwork by SC. Veer2.

Koshka Duff (trans.), 2017. STECKNADEL. Translation into German of PIN, a pamphlet of poems and collages by Frances Kruk. Edited by Lotta Thießen and Lisa Jeschke. Materialien, Munich.

Konstancja Duff, 2015. Death and the People. An album of piano music by Rachmaninov, Schubert, Bartok & Brahms, performed by KD. Includes 16 page illustrated booklet of notes about the music, written by KD. Available on Bandcamp (with liner notes) or Spotify (without notes).

Future Research

The next two projects I hope to complete are interdisciplinary collaborations:

- a journal article on the under-studied issue of UK police strip searching practices - 'Strip-searching as Abjectification: Racism and sexual violence in British policing', co-authored with Tom Kemp (UoN Criminology)

- a journal article on how 'liberal democratic' states use 'protest rights' to discipline dissent - 'From the Docile Protester to the Ungovernable Collective: On the limits of the right to protest', co-authored with political theorist and surveillance scholar Matthew Hall (UoN Criminology)

I am increasingly researching issues around love and intimacy, social policing, disability, and neurodiversity. My upcoming/planned projects include:

- a chapter on polyamory for the Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and the Family, edited by Teresa Baron (UoN Philosophy).

- a chapter on love and intimacy as sites of struggle, co-authored with Chris Rossdale (Bristol Politics & IR), in Resisting Criminalisation: Tactics of repression, tactics of struggle, edited by members of the criminalisation of political activism research network.

- co-guest editing a special issue of Global Justice: Theory, Practice, Rhetoric with Noemi Magnani, Adam Ferner, and Rowena Azada-Palacios on the topic 'Unifying Against Oppression: The radical republicanism of Dara Bascara (1983-2021)

- developing my work on the ethics of resistance into a article for the Journal of Pacifism and Non-Violence, edited by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos (Loughborough Politics & IR).

- ongoing collaborations with NGOs Liberty, Release, and StopWatch addressing the harms of policing and developing non-policing responses to issues such as serious youth violence and drug-related harm.

Department of Philosophy

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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