Photo of Justin Paulson

Justin Paulson

Associate Professor

Degrees:PhD (History of Consciousness, University of California-Santa Cruz), BA (English Literature, Swarthmore College)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2938
Office:C768 Loeb Building & 1502 Dunton Tower

Office Hours:

Scheduled through

Biography and Areas of Interest:

Justin Paulson is a political sociologist and social theorist whose seminars, courses, and directed readings typically address questions of critical theory and intellectual history, social change, and political economy. He is the recipient of the 2016 Graduate Students’ Association Excellence Award in Graduate Teaching and the 2013 Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Award, and has been nominated for a Capital Educators’ Award.

Dr. Paulson serves on the executive and editorial boards of the journals Studies in Political Economy and Mediations. He is also a member of the editorial collective of Red Quill Books, and serves on the advisory board of Alternate Routes and the scientific board of Moment. He is a past-Vice President of the faculty union and a sitting Senator representing the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Prior to joining Carleton in 2008, he taught history at Seattle University, arboriculture at Linn-Benton Community College, and interdisciplinary courses at the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Professor Paulson is the Director of the Institute of Political Economy (as of January 2021).

Works in Progress (2019-2020):

“Murderous Capitalism and the Settler Colonial War on Rebel Bodies: Indigenous Women on the Front Lines in British Columbia” (co-investigator with Julie Tomiak, PI)


“Original and Ongoing Dispossessions: Settler Capitalism and Indigenous Resistance in British Columbia” – traces the unique dynamics of primitive accumulation in British Columbia, 1849-1900, presented at the conference Toward a Global History of Primitive Accumulation, 2019 (

“Marxism, Enclosure, and Anti-Colonial Struggle” – on the unfortunate absence of Indigenous Studies from much North American Marxist theory, and the difficulties of working with categories developed to understand imperial colonialisms to make sense of settler colonialism and resistance, presented at the Institute on Culture and Society, 2018.

“Racialisation, Accumulation, and the Settler Colonial War on Indigenous Women” – presenting the first results of archival research, at Historical Materialism (London, UK), 2018.

“Murderous Capitalism and the Settler Colonial War on Rebel Bodies” – overview of the project, presented at Historical Materialism (Montréal), 2018.

“Punk Rock, Antifascist Education, and Political Action: Lessons from the 1970s” – plenary talk at the Canadian History of Education Association conference (Fredricton, 2018), on the relevance of antifascist campaigns through Rock Against Racism for antifascist organizing today. Undergoing revisions toward publication.

“(Un)productive and necessary labour” — theorizes productive, unproductive, and necessary labour as political categories in the context of social reproduction. Presented at Historical Materialism (London, 2016), now part of a collaborative project with Sue Ferguson.

“Post-Political Populism in Brazil” (with Sabrina Fernandes). Originally drafted when the PT was still in power, the paper now understands Bolsonaro’s rise in the context of the growth of ‘post-political’ movements in Brazil and the PT’s attempt to maintain a tight rein on social movements.

Recent and Selected Older Publications:

“What’s Left After the Breakup of the CPGB?” (co-authored with Bruce Curtis). In Robert Latham and Julian von Bargen, eds., Augmenting the Left, forthcoming from Fernwood.

“Political Economy” – encyclopedia entry in Diamanti, Pendakis, & Szeman, The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx (Bloomsbury, 2018).

Capital and its ‘laws of motion’: determination, praxis, and the human science/natural science question” (co-authored with Peter Gose). In Schmidt & Fanelli, eds., Reading Capital Today (Pluto, 2017).

Capitalism and Confrontation: Critical Perspectives (Red Quill Books, 2012).

“On the Uneven Development of Radical Imagination.” Affinities (2011).

“Peasant Struggles and International Solidarity: The Case of Chiapas.” Socialist Register (2001).

Recent Courses:

• SOCI 3006 Contemporary Sociological Theory: The Marxist Tradition
• SOCI 3210/20 Special Topics: Sociology of Trumpism
• SOCI 3430 Collective Action and Social Movements
• SOCI 5804 Modern Marxist Theory
• PECO 5000 Theories of Political Economy
• PECO 6000 Core Concepts in Political Economy

Graduate Student Supervision:

As of September 2020, Justin is supervising 2 PhD students in Sociology, and 1 MA student in Political Economy. He is the second reader for 7 PhD students in Sociology, Indigenous Studies, Geography/Environmental Studies, ICSLAC (Cultural Mediations), and Public Policy, and the second reader for 1 MA student in Sociology.

He may have more supervisory room in 2021, at which time he would be particularly interested in working with one or more incoming students studying the social histories and contradictions of settler colonialism in Canada and/or the theoretical intersections of Marxism, Indigenous Studies, and the racial capitalism literature.

Note: Although most Carleton departments have dropped their second language requirements, Dr. Paulson still expects doctoral candidates to demonstrate research proficiency in more than one language, and his supervisees are expected to develop any necessary language competencies during the course of their program.

Thesis Titles of Graduates:


Dr. Jenna Amirault (Sociology/IPE), “A Political Strategy for the Liberation of Women: Socialist Feminist Political Practice”, 2020.

Dr. Michael Bueckert (Sociology/IPE), “Boycotts and Backlash: Canadian Opposition to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movements from South Africa to Israel”, 2019 (with medal nomination).

Dr. Eloy Rivas Sánchez (Sociology/IPE), “Deportability, Labour, and Health in Canada’s Late Capitalism”, 2019 (with medal nomination).

Dr. Sabrina Fernandes (Sociology/IPE), “Crisis of Praxis: Depoliticization and Leftist Fragmentation in Brazil”, 2017 (winner of Senate medal and CALACS dissertation prize).

Dr. Aaron Henry (Sociology/IPE), “District Space: A Nineteenth Century Technique of Rule”, 2015 (with medal nomination).

Dr. Carlo Fanelli (Sociology), “Fragile Future: The Attack Against Public Services and Public Sector Unions in an Age of Austerity”, 2013.


Mikayla Sherry (Sociology), “Towards a More Critical Consciousness: Race-Making, Affect, and Counter-Knowledges”, 2019 (with medal nomination).

Yumi Kotani (IPE), “Envisioning Equity: Coalition and Partnership Strategies of Ottawa’s Equity and Inclusion Lens”, 2014 (with distinction).

Michael Bueckert (IPE), “Reification and Alternatives to Development”, 2013 (with medal nomination).

Kirsten Francescone (IPE), “Paths of Development in Bolivia: Contradictions of the Proceso de Cambio“, 2012.

Sabrina Fernandes (IPE), “The Cursinho Industry and the Advancement of the Neoliberal Agenda for Access to Education in Brazil”, 2012 (with medal nomination).

Aaron Henry (IPE), “Export Development Canada, Capital, and Political Risk: From a Keynesian to a Neoliberal Regime of Spatial Production”, 2010.

Tamara Paradis (Sociology), “Neoliberal Digitality, Labour and Leisure in an MMOG: An Ethnography and Analysis”, 2010.