SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

Jana Cattien

BA (Durham) MPhil (Cambridge)
  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research


Jana Cattien
Jana Cattien
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Thesis title:
The dialectics of universality and particularity in contemporary 'western' liberalism; or: liberalism's 'cultural' turn? (working title)
Year of Study:
3rd Year
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

This thesis is a critical exploration of a fundamental contradiction that is constitutive of ‘western’ liberalism: liberalism is trying to pretend that it can coordinate politics without particular commitments, but in fact it cannot uphold this pretence without particulars—signifiers like ‘women’ and ‘culture’. That is, it requires particulars precisely in order to reaffirm its own claim to universality. So liberalism, in trying to resolve its constitutive contradiction, reproduces the same contradiction in sublated form.

The aim of this thesis is to draw out the specific manifestations of this contradiction, as they emerge in the context of contemporary Germany, where, in the wake of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, notions of a ‘liberal culture’ (Leitkultur) have gained new momentum, with ‘women’ being interpellated as the symbolic guardians of this ‘liberal culture’. In this sense, my thesis wants to articulate a programmatic critique of contemporary ‘western’ liberalism that is immanently grounded in the German context. 


  • Cattien, Jana (2017). Feminist Epistemology and the Question of Difference Reconfigured: What can Wittgenstein Tell Us about "Women"?. Journal of International Women's Studies, 18(3), 5-18,  Available at


  • 12/2017: ‚Feminists Against Political Correctness? Towards a Performative Understanding of Political Alliances’‚ Das wird man doch wohl noch sagen dürfen! Zum Stand der Anti-Political Correctness Bewegung in Deutschland, Zentrum für transdisziplinäre Geschlechterstudien, Humboldt Universität Berlin (Germany)
  • 11/2017: ‘Assemblages and Activism – A Critical Conversation’, Arbeitskreis Politik und Geschlecht, Intersektionale und postcolonial-feministische Perspektive als Instrumente einer politikwissenschaflichen Macht- und Herrschaftskritik, Universität Essen (Germany)
  • 10/2017: 'Is the ‚feminism’ in anti-feminism the same as in feminism?’, Tagung Feminismus und Öffentlichkeit, Goethe Universität Frankfurt (Germany)
  • 07/2017: ‘The 2017 NSU Tribunal: Performing Justice Against the Odds’, Panel on Activism and Academia, Challenges in Queer and Feminist Diaspora and Migration Studies, SOAS Centre for Gender Studies Workshop & Conference, London (United Kingdom)
  • 06/2017: ‘Erasures, Exclusions and the Impossibility of the Universal: Reconceptualising Coalitional and Intersectional Feminist Politics in Contemporary Germany’, Panel on Constructing Cultures of Collective Freedom, London Conference in Critical Thought, London (United Kingdom)
  • 06/2017: ‘Of Monsters and Myths: Ideologies, Borders and Feminist Politics in Post ‘Cologne’ Germany’, MeCCSA PGN Conference 2017, Borders and Boundaries: Territories, Technologies, Transgressions, London (United Kingdom)
  • 06/2017: ‘Troubling the “Identical’ in Identity’, Second International Conference ‘The Discourse of Identity’, Santiago de Compostela (Spain)
  • 03/2017: Panel Chair: Theorising and Decolonising Sexuality, Centre for Transnational Development, Politicised Sexualities and Marginalised Histories, London (United Kingdom)
  • 05/2016: ‘New Perspectives on Feminist Epistemology’, Feminism and (Political) Progress – Fifth Graduate Political Theory Conference, Oxford (United Kingdom)


  • Introduction to Political Theory


  • Feminist Philosophy
  • Political Theory
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Critical Theory