School of Politics and International Relations

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Political Theory

The School of Politics and International Relations' approach to political theory is eclectic, engaging with a wide range of questions and approaches. It coheres around common interests in critical theoretical traditions, the application of theoretical ideas in political life, and a blurring of the distinction between domestic and international political theory. Staff have research interests in postcolonialism, democratic theory, global ethics, the history of political thought, feminist philosophy, Marxist theory, radical politics and theories of identity and representation.

Our heterogeneous and critical research supports theoretically informed scholarship across the School, helping to create connections between political theory and other research themes. We have developed particularly strong links between political theory and international relations, which can be seen in both the TheoryLab and the Global Politics Unbound research groups.

Recent research by staff working in political theory includes work on the history and legacy of the New Left (Madeleine Davis), global justice theory and human rights in global cities (Joe Hoover), feminist understandings of the ethics of war (Kimberly Hutchings), and radical democratic theory and the challenges of multiculturalism (Lasse Thomassen).

Our scholars have pioneered the study of the political activism of the British New Left and encouraged public engagement with the history of political thought (Davis), the development of a critical pragmatist approach to global ethics that draws on the activist practices of political movements to theorise question of human rights and justice (Hoover), the investigation of how ideas of violence and politics in political theory relate to contemporary political practice (Hutchings),  and the use of deconstruction and discourse theory in the political analysis of identity and representation (Thomassen).

In 2013, the School launched the TheoryLab to develop collaborative research and innovation in contemporary political theory. TheoryLab explores points of connection and convergence between different kinds of critical theory within and beyond the study of politics. The idea of a lab for theory signals a characteristic of thinking that is central to critical political theory: it is experimental and engages creatively with spaces beyond the disciplinary boundaries of politics and IR. A lab builds connections, encounters and new materials and has a transformative capacity, given its open and process-led form. TheoryLab activities include lectures, seminars, workshops, classes and reading groups.

Staff are also active in the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought, which runs a fortnightly Seminar in the History of Political Ideas, and annual events including the Nicolai Rubenstein Lecture, the International Symposia in the Humanities and Social Science, and the London Summer School in Intellectual

Staff active in the Political Theory research group:
Dr Audrey Alejandro, Dr Madeleine Davis, Dr Diego de Merich, Dr Jean-François Drolet, Dr Joe Hoover, Prof Kimberly Hutchings, Prof Jef Huysmans, Prof Engin Isin, Dr Daniel Kato, Dr Lasse Thomassen, Dr Alen Toplišek, Dr Caroline Williams and Dr David Williams.

Current research students:
Alexander Blanchard, Sian Cilia, Sophie Crowe, Miri Davidson, Thomas Hooper, Madeleine Lindh, Matheus Lock Santos, Jihane Melhouf, Jodi Thompson, Deirdre Troy
>>read their full profiles

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