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Ricarda Hammer

Ricarda Hammer is a WCED Postdoctoral Fellow for 2021-23. Her research interests lie at the intersection of global, historical, and postcolonial sociology. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Brown University in 2021 and she is currently working on her book manuscript, “Citizenship and Colonial Difference: The Racial Politics of Rights and Rule across the Black Atlantic.” The book aims to build a new genealogy of rights formation by examining it through the colonial struggle, and from the perspective of the enslaved and colonized in the colonial Caribbean. While often written out of theories of political modernity, struggles for freedom from racial slavery and colonization are central struggles in the history of democratization: At the same time as democratic revolutions swept both England and France, the enslaved in English and French plantation colonies claimed freedom for themselves; and political elites sought and found ways to deny freedoms to colonized populations. Tracing these struggles for rights throughout the Age of Revolutions and beyond, this project brings to light the pitfalls, predicaments, and contestations against colonial rule as a central part of political modernity. Embracing the political imagination of the colonized recenters our understanding of modern freedom struggles as coming out of racial slavery, and with that, asserts the question of who counts as human as the central problem of political modernity. This approach offers a novel geographic imagination that allows us to conceptualize rights struggles beyond the nation state, and that highlights the need to bring together questions of recognition and redistribution in a struggle against colonial modernity.

As a Postdoctoral Fellow, Ricarda will continue to develop her book manuscript and prepare several papers on anticolonial political subjectivities, global historical approaches to racism, and social theory. Her work has been published in Sociological Theory, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Political Power and Social Theory, and Teaching Sociology.


  • Ph.D., Sociology, Brown University, 2021
  • M.A., Sociology, Brown University, 2014
  • B.A., Social & Political Sciences, University of Cambridge, 2010

Awards and Honors:

  • Terence K. Hopkins Best Graduate Student Paper Award, ASA Section Political Economy and the World System (2018)
  • Elise Boulding Best Graduate Student Paper Award, ASA Section War, Peace and Social Conflict (2018)
  • Brown University Interdisciplinary Opportunity Fellowship, Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (2017-18)
  • NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Award (2017-19)
  • Brown University Dissertation Fellowship (2016-17)


Following her WCED Fellowship, Ricarda accepted a position as assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.