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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.

The TheoryLab offers a platform for staff and PhD students to engage with one another’s work, for visiting scholars to find an intellectual home and an opportunity for international theory-focused scholarship to disseminate knowledge.



To find out more about our events and programmes please contact Dr Elke Schwarz at


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Check back here for updates on our activities for 2020/21 – more to follow soon.

Weekly Work-In-Progress Seminars

We will resume our weekly work-in-progress seminar series in the autumn 2020/21. Any QMUL staff or PhD student interested in discussing their work-in-progress, please get in touch with Dr Elke Schwarz (


TheoryLab / Doing IPS joint Work-In-Progress Seminar Series Summer 2020 


TheoryLab / Doing IPS joint Work-In-Progress Seminar Series Spring 2020 


TheoryLab / Doing IPS joint Work-In-Progress Seminar Series Autumn 2019


TheoryLab / Doing IPS joint Work-In-Progress Seminar Series Spring 2019


Upcoming Events

Check back here for updates on our upcoming online and IRL event schedule for 2020/21 – more to follow soon.


Past Events

July 22, 2020 16:00 – 17:30- Book Launch: Imagining Afghanistan – The History and Politics of Imperial Knowledge

Location: Cyberspace 

Chair: Laleh Khalili (QMUL)

Speaker: Nivi Manchanda (QMUL)

Discussant: Robbie Shilliam (QMUL)


October 24, 2019 – 18:00 – 19:30- Public Lecture: Nuclear Wargames – Ethics and the Quest to Quantify Conflict

Location: Arts One Lecture Theatre

Speaker: Dr John Emery (University of California, Irvine)

Discussant: Dr Elke Schwarz


May 29, 2019 12:30 – 20:00- Workshop and Public Lecture: Confronting Injustice: Critical and Realistic Approaches to Global Inequality (in cooperation with the BISA Ethics and World Politics Working Group)

Location: Arts Two / Arts One Lecture Hall (QMUL)

Speakers: Prof. Michael Goodhart (University of Pittsburgh), Prof. Katherine Flickschuh (LSE), Dr Simon Reid-Henry (QMUL) 

Discussant: Dr Joseph Hoover (QMUL)


March 6, 2019 – 18:00 – 19:30- Book Launch: Death Machines – The Ethics of Violent Technologies

Location: Arts One Lecture Theatre

Speaker: Dr Elke Schwarz (QMUL)

Discussants: Prof. Kimberly Hutchings (QMUL); Prof. Mervyn Frost (KCL)


October 16, 2018 18:00 – 20:00- Public Lecture: Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics (in cooperation with the BISA Ethics and World Politics Working Group)

Location: Drapers Lecture Theatre, Geography Building, QMUL

Speaker: Prof. Catherine Lu (McGill University) 

Discussant: Prof. Kimberly Hutchings (QMUL)


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


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, 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.


We currently have over 60 QMUL members working on a rich and diverse range of theory-focused scholarship, across all academic levels – from PhD researchers to Senior Level Professorial Scholars. If you are QMUL affiliated and would like to be included in our membership list, please do get in touch with Dr. Elke Schwarz – 

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.

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