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School of Politics and International Relations





The TheoryLab aims to provide a space for critical thinking about politics and society. The TheoryLab is open to academics and non-academics alike, and we organise events of all kinds: conferences, workshops, reading groups, and more.

Established in May 2013, the 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 new materials and has a transformative capacity, given its open and process-led form.


To find out more about the TheoryLab, contact us via

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Job Openings at the School for Politics and International Relations

The School of Politics and International Relations has currently two job openings. We are seeking to appoint a Lecturer with expertise in the politics of race and racism to teach the popular third year undergraduate module, Race and Racism in World Politics and to contribute to other existing modules across the undergraduate curriculum. More on this opening here.

We are also looking to appoint an exceptional scholar to take up the position of Lecturer in Politics/International Political Sociology from September 2018. The School will introduce a new BA in Politics and Sociology from 2019, and the post-holder will contribute to the development of new modules broadly focusing on the sociology of politics and/or globalization. More on this opening here.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, 10 April 2019, 3-5pm – Is Corbyn a populist?

For some, Jeremy Corbyn is a populist, for others not. For some, it’s a good thing that he is a populist, for others not. Pitting the many against the few, and the great emphasis on Corbyn as the leader may suggest that Corbynism is a form of Left populism. Others argue that Corbyn is more old school social democrat. We ask if Corbyn is a populist. Drawing on their experiences with populist politics in the UK, France, Spain and Denmark, the speakers discuss what it means if Corbyn is a populist: is populism a viable electoral strategy? And, once in power, what can we expect of a Left populist government?

Speakers: Tim Bale (Queen Mary) (tbc), Philippe Marliere (UCL), Oscar Garcia Agustin (Aalborg University).

Chair: Marina Prentoulis (UEA)

Location: Bancroft Building, 3.40, Mile End Campus

The event is free, but you must register your place.

The event is funded by the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IHSS) at Queen Mary University of London.

Organisers: Marina Prentoulis (UEA) and Lasse Thomassen (Queen Mary).


24-25 April 2019– The Analytic-Continental Divide in Political Theory Workshop

The workshop is funded by a Leverhulme/British Academy Small Grant.
Participation is free, but participants should register by emailing Lasse Thomassen.

Further details can be found here: Workshop Programme [PDF 369KB]


Past Events

Tuesday, 24 April 2018, 4-5.30pm – Work-in-progress seminar:  Situating Global Justice Theory in the Global City

Joe Hoover will present a paper on ‘Situating Global Justice Theory in the Global City’. The paper will be circulated at a later date. All welcome.

Location: Arts One 2.18, Mile End Campus


Wednesday, 30 May 2018, 9.30am-5.30pm – PhD course: Deconstruction as Method for Political Analysis

The course consists of a one-day workshop for research students and young researchers. The aim of the workshop is to examine deconstruction as a method for political analysis. We read examples of deconstructive analyses by Jacques Derrida and discuss the methodological implications of deconstruction as well as the philosophical assumptions behind it. Deconstruction is often used in literature, cultural studies and philosophy, but is little used as a method for political analysis. The workshop examines the usefulness of deconstruction for the study of politics not only by reading about deconstruction, but also by seeing how it can be put to use in the analysis of texts. The workshop consists of three two-hour sessions led by Dr Lasse Thomassen (Queen Mary, University of London).

Location: Arts Two 3.16, Mile End Campus

Further details can be found here

Contact details: Lasse Thomassen


Wednesday, 24 January 2018, 6-8pm – Seminar: Twitter, Book, Riot: Post-Digital Publishing against Race

Nicholas Thoburn and Paolo Gerbaudo discuss the implications of social media for publishing, populism and resistance.

Location: Lock-Keeper’s Cottage Seminar Room 1, Mile End Campus

Contact details: Dr Lasse Thomassen


Thursday, 15 June 2017 – Explorative Workshop: Movement Parties

Following Donatella della Porta and others, this workshop explores what we might call ‘movement parties’. In some cases, a movement becomes a party, but seeks to retain key characteristics of a movement; in other cases, a new party wants to tap the energies of movements and transpose them into electoral politics; and, in yet other cases, a movement tries to take over an existing party. What, if anything, is new about these so-called movement parties? What do they tell us about the relationship between civil society and the state, and between protest, movements and parties? And what do they tell us about the current state of liberal representative democracy?

For more information, click here.


Thursdays, 17 November to 15 December 2016 – Reading Group: Re-reading Orientalism

Re-reading Edward Said’s Orientalism in 2016 seems pertinent for, on one hand, recent events in the Middle East brought the agency of the ‘orient’ back to the centre of academic debate. On the other, recent developments in Europe, most recent of which is Brexit, highlighted the ubiquity of exclusionary discourses in former imperialist states. This all occurs while the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Said’s birthplace, remains a reminder that the age of imperialism is yet to be gone. Rereading Orientalism in (and through) such historical context would highly reward our understanding of both Said’s seminal post-colonial text and our contemporary post-colonial history.

For more information, click here.


Thursday, 28 April 2016 – Research Workshop: Discourse Theory and the ‘Essex School’

This one-day methods workshop for research students and early career researchers examined the discourse theory of the ‘Essex School’ as a method for political analysis. We read key texts by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe and discussed the methodological implications of their theory of discourse and hegemony as well as the philosophical assumptions behind it.

For more information, click here.


Saturday, 19 March 2016 – Master Class: Hegemony and Socialist Strategy Today

This Master Class for research students explored the relevance of Hegemony and Socialist Strategy for analysing contemporary politics and society. Participants had a chance to develop their understanding of the theory of hegemony, of the method of discourse theory and how to apply it, and of Laclau’s and Mouffe’s works on populism. Chantal Mouffe, Iñigo Errejón, Oliver Marchart, Luciana Cadahia and Javier Franzé discussed how they see the relevance of the book’s argument today.

For more information, click here.


Wednesday, 13 January 2016 – Workshop: Podemos and the Future of Spanish Politics

This workshop explored the nature of Podemos as a political movement and their prospects as a force in Spanish politics. With interventions from invited speakers and lots of time for discussion: what is the relationship between the indignados and Podemos? Are they a force of the Left? What is the nature of their populism? What has been the influence of Laclau and Mouffe on Podemos? How have they changed Spanish politics, and what are their prospects in the new Spanish parliament? What are the implications for the Left in the rest of Europe? Can the Left in the UK learn anything from Podemos?

For more information, click here.


For events prior to 2016, click here.

Andro Kitus

Audrey Alejandro: Internationalisation of Knowledge, Knowledge Innovation and Social Transformation, Critical Theory, Sustainable Agriculture

Alexander Blanchard: History and Ethics of Political Violence, War and Terrorism, Political Judgement and Responsibility, Power, Contemporary Political Thought, Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault

Miri Davidson: Structuralism, Race and Coloniality, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Louis Althusser, Marxism, Anthropology

Madeleine Davis: History of the Left in the UK, Socialist Political Thought, British New Left, Marxist Thought, Edward Thompson

Andonea Jon Dickson: Border Studies, Migration, Militarisation, Critical Security Studies

Jean-François Drolet: Political Theory, Intellectual History of the American Right, Friedrich Nietzsche

Joe Hoover: Global Ethics, Human Rights, Pragmatism, Situationist Ethics, Radical Democracy, Global Cities

Kimberly Hutchings: International Ethics, Ethics of War, Politics and Violence, International Political Theory, Feminism and IR

Jef Huysmans: Politics of Insecurity, Securitization of Migration, Critical Security Studies, Security and Democracy, Acts of Citizenship, International Political Sociologies of Mobility

Engin Isin: Imperialism and Colonial Practices, Historical Sociology of Citizenship, Performing Political Subjectivities

Andro Kitus: Political philosophy/theory, poststructuralist political thought and the concept of legitimacy from a post-structuralist (deconstructive) perspective.

Nivi Manchada: International Political Theory, Theories of Race and Empire, Gender and IR Theory

Diego de Merich: Care Ethics, Development Ethics, Intersectionality, Gender and Feminist Theory, International Political Theory, Affect/Empathy and Moral Theory

Patrick Pinkerton: Post-conflict Societies, Migration and Development, Biopolitics, Derrida and Deconstruction

Matheus Lock Santos: Brazil and Latin America Studies, Social Movements and Political Resistance, Public Opinion and Democratic Theory, Contemporary Political Philosophy, Discourse and Semiotics, Politics of the Event, Time and Temporality

Hesham Shafick: Political Violence, Colonial and Post-Colonial Theory, Critical Security, Critical Terrorism Studies, Social Movements, Revolution, Militarization, Arab Spring and Middle East History

Lasse Thomassen: Discourse Theory, Deconstruction and Derrida, New Forms of Radical Politics, Representation, Habermas, Identity Politics

Jodi Thompson: Political Theory, Structuralism, Sociology, IR and Ethno-Politics

Lisa Tilley: Political Economy, Critical Development Studies, Critical Geography, Decolonial, Postcolonial, and Intersectional Thought, Political Ontology, Materialisms, Theories of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality

Alen Toplišek: Crisis of Liberal Democracy, Post-structuralism, Marxist Theory, Violence and Resistance

Caroline Williams: Continental Political Philosophy, Selfhood, Subjectivity, Spinoza, Althusserian and Post-Althusserian Political Theory

David Williams: IR, Development and Political Theory, Development Policy and Practice, International Liberalism, Global Governance


Dr Takefumi Ukai (Seinan Gakuin University), June - July 2018

While at Queen Mary as a Research Fellow, Dr Ukai will research on ‘Time in Democracy: Its Past, Present and Future’. The research analyses the theoretical relationship between time and democracy as self-governance by the people; in particular, it engages with the theoretical features of tense (past, present and future). This research is concerned with various inquiries concerning the foundation of democracy itself. Focusing on the temporal aspects of democracy, the research tries to determine not only the singularity of democratic governance, but also the reasons why current democratic regimes are deeply attached to its tense (especially past and future).

Dr Mariam Martinez Ramirez (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid), July - August 2017

Mariam Martinez Ramirez’s research on democratic theory and populism explores the challenges of populism for contemporary democracy and democratic theory.

Prof Yannis Stavrakakis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), September 2014 - February 2015

Prof Stavrakakis uses discourse theory and Lacanian psychoanalysis to study contemporary populism, in particular left-wing populism in Europe. He came to QMUL as a Leverhulme Visiting Professor.

Prof Paul Patton (University of New South Wales), May - June 2013

Prof Patton’s research focuses on the divide and/or intersection between analytic and Continental political philosophy, with a particular focus on rights and how a post-structuralist perspective and a Rawlsian perspective might mutually enrich one another. He came to QMUL as an HSS Visiting Fellow.


Visiting Academics

Scholars interested in visiting the TheoryLab and QMUL, should contact Dr Lasse Thomassen. For details about upcoming funding opportunities, please refer to the News section of this page. For details about Visiting Titles, see here.