Skip to main content

Who we are


Who we are

Exeter possesses one of the most distinguished reputations in political theory and the history of political ideas in the UK. The journal History of Political Thought was conceived and begun in our department.

The Centre now comprises colleagues whose interests cut across diverse areas of political theory, as well as colleagues whose main research is in others sub-fields of politics, from international relations to comparative politics, but whose work has a strong theory component.

Our affiliated members come from both politics and other disciplines and departments across the University. Interdisciplinarity and diversity of approaches are central to both the scope and the activities of our Centre.


Dr Dario Castiglione

Centre Co-Director

Dario Castiglione’s main areas of research comprise democratic theory and the history of early modern political philosophy. He has written on representation, citizenship and constitutionalism; theories of civil society and social capital; the constitutional nature of the European Union; the Scottish Enlightenment, Hume and Mandeville; and 18th-century theories of the social contract and of their crittiques, and early modern scepticism. His main current research interests are on representation and political legitimacy; and the way in which political and conceptual discourses translates across linguistic and cultural divides.



Professor Robert Lamb

Centre Co-Director

Robert Lamb is interested in the history of political ideas, contemporary political theory, and philosophical issues related to the interpretation and understanding of texts. The main focus of his research is the intellectual tradition of modern liberalism – understood very broadly, and from the eighteenth century to the present – and its central political commitments. His published work has concerned historical and philosophical understandings of moral and political concepts such as human rights, property, equality, and freedom, and writers such as Locke, Paine, Rawls, and Rorty. His current research looks at the idea of political hope.


Dr Ross Carroll

Ross Carroll's research interests are in the history of early modern political thought, with a focus on eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain and France. His first book, Uncivil Mirth: Ridicule in Enlightenment Britain (Princeton 2021), recovers the Enlightenment debate on the appropriate use of ridicule as an instrument of moral and political reform. He has also published recently on Mary Wollstonecraft's views on political economy, the history of contempt as a political and moral concept, and the hidden intellectual labour performed by the wives of great political thinkers such as Alexis de Tocqueville. At present Carroll is writing a short book on Edmund Burke and plans a future research project on the political thought of the French political theorist and abolitionist, Gustave de Beaumont.


Dr Robin Durie

Robin Durie's research interests lie in continental political philosophy and public policy. He has expertise in the history of phenomenology, as well as the writings of Bergson and Deleuze, and has published work on problems of time, change and difference. Based on primary research in complexity theory, he has investigated processes of change in the National Health Service, alongside processes of social and urban regeneration as a founding member of the Connecting Communities [C2] programme. With C2, he is currently collaborating on a major new initiative with the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit in Glasgow. He has received EPSRC funding to investigate the themes of 'sustainability', and the evolution of artificial culture, from the perspective of theories of emergence. He was the Academic Lead for the RCUK-funded Exeter Catalyst for Public Engagement, and is currently Director for Engaged research at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures & Environments of Health. He is a member of the Lancet Commission investigating The Value of Death, the Report of which is due to be published in late 2021.

Dr Lise Ester Herman

Lise’s research bridges the fields of comparative politics, party studies and normative democratic theory, with a primary focus on the theory and practice of democratic partisanship. She has written extensively on the role of partisan agency in the contemporary crisis facing representative democracy. This includes the rise of the populist radical right in established democracies and processes of democratic backsliding in newly established democracies - with a particular focus on Hungarian politics.


Professor Iain Hampsher-Monk

Iain Hampsher-Monk’s own research interests lie in early-modern political thought and discourse, in particular, in republican thought and its naturalisation in British political thinking, in seventeenth and eighteenth-century radicalism, the political thought of Edmund Burke and his contemporaries, and in methodological problems associated with the history and understanding of the political thought of the past. He also works and publishes on contemporary political thought, particularly in areas associated with democratic theory, toleration and theories of equality.

Dr Xianan Jin 

Xianan is a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus. She joined the department in September 2022. Xianan has studied politics and practised feminism in Beijing, Taipei, Bologna, London and Kigali. She is interested in the representation and resistance of gendered subjects in global politics, and how gendered subjects from rich and poor backgrounds participate in politics differently. For her first book project, she did her fieldwork in Rwanda for a year to investigate women’s engagement with politics after the genocide in 1994. This book is based on her PhD thesis, The Political Economy of Women's Political Participation in Rwanda: Gender, Class and Statebuilding, at SOAS, University of London.


 photo of Dr Andreas Karoutas

Dr Andreas Karoutas

Andreas Karoutas' research interests revolve around the intersection of political philosophy, democratic theory, social change and social/revolutionary movements. In his thesis, he sought to understand the political and democratic significance of minorities in contesting dominant ideas, values, and practices sustained by majorities. Following Cornelius Castoriadis, Andreas explores how democratic autonomy is instigated by minorities in the sense of self-reflexivity predicated on a society's willingness to be open to itself. His thesis focused on demonstrating how Ernesto Laclau, Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Rancière are pre-occupied, in their own ways, with understanding the democratic role of such insurgent minorities. Andreas is inspired by post-anarchist and post-structuralist theories and is also actively engaged in research relating to security studies, conflict analysis, and conflict (de-)escalation. He is currently research assistant on the ESRC-funded 'Nonviolent Repression and the Escalation of Conflicts over Self-Determination' (NRECS) project at the University of Bath, which studies the conditions under which nonviolent restrictions of ethnic rights are associated with violent escalation. At present, he is working on a couple of papers based on his doctoral thesis, as well as an article on post-apocalyptic politics, examining the political utopias and dystopias of Gabriel Tarde, Gilles Deleuze and Cornelius Castoriadis.


Dr Sarah Drews Lucas

Sarah Drews Lucas's areas of research are feminist philosophy and critical theory. She works on questions of agency, autonomy, care ethics, communicability, narrative, and personal identity. Her current projects focus on feminist narrative agency and on ordinary language philosophy and the ethics of care. She is also interested in gender and politics, ancient political theory, contemporary political theory, continental philosophy, human rights, and the work of Hannah Arendt.


Dr Bice Maiguashca

Bice Maiguashca’s research has focused on a set of questions around the origins, strategic trajectory and political significance of contemporary forms of left-wing politics and feminist activism in particular. Her current research projects revolve around three different strands of inquiry. The first involves the critical interrogation of “populism” as an analytical concept and as a political signifier. The second involves research into “Corbynism” as a new left landscape. Finally, the third concerns the challenges faced by feminist activists in the face of gendered power relations and globalised neoliberalism.


Dr Martin Moorby

My main research interests are in the history of political thought, mainly Marx and Marxism. My doctoral research was on Marx's critique of politics as a form of alienation.


Professor Catriona McKinnon

Catriona McKinnon’s main research interest is currently in the area of climate justice and climate ethics. Her research adopts a broadly liberal approach which reflects her other research interests in contemporary liberal political philosophy (especially Rawls), and the theory and practice of toleration. In her work, she takes seriously what we owe to future people in the face of the climate crisis. Although most of her work has been in 'pure' political philosophy, she is increasingly engaged in transdisciplinary work on climate justice in order to better inform climate policy. Before coming to Exeter she was the Director of the Leverhulme Doctoral Programme in Climate Justice, and Director of the Centre for Climate and Justice, both at the University of Reading.


Dr James Muldoon

James Muldoon’s current research interest is on the digital co-operative economy and fairer alternatives to platforms such as Uber, Airbnb and Deliveroo. He is currently working on two grants: “Platforming Equality: Policy Challenges for the Digital Economy” funded by the ESRC and “Co-Designing a Food Delivery Platform Co-operative” with assistance from Not-Equal, a UKRI funding network. His previous research has examined political campaigning, social movements and political parti; in particular the democratic socialist tradition in the European labour movement, including study of workers’ councils and the political thought of figures such as Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky, Anton Pannekoek, Karl Korsch and Richard Müller. His other research interests comprise the rise of populism and the electoral success of the far right; the traditions of community organising; and in political philosophy, German Idealism, French post-structuralists, and Italian post-Marxists.


Dr Catherine Owen

Catherine Owen’s main research interests concern participatory governance under authoritarianism, with a focus on Russia and China. Dr Owen’s work explores the ways in which citizens are encouraged to participate in local policy-making and delivery in Russia and China. This research has been published in a variety of articles, and is the subject of an ongoing book manuscript. In addition to this focus, she has also pursued research on decolonial and non-Western approaches to knowledge production in International Relations.


Dr Alex Prichard

Alex Prichard’s research lies at the intersection of International Relations, political theory and anarchist studies. His work focuses on anarchist thought and anarchist constitutional politics in particular, as well as points at intersections and disagreements in anarchist and Marxist philosophies. In addition to this, Dr Prichard is interested in the ethics and phenomenology of war and violence, republican political theory, and co-production methods in political philosophy. In 2012 he co-founded, and now co-edits, the monograph series Contemporary Anarchist Studies, published by Manchester University Press.


Dr Andrew Schaap

Andrew Schaap’s main area of research is contemporary political theory. His book Political Reconciliation drew on the thought of Hannah Arendt to conceptualize reconciliation as a political undertaking in societies divided by a history of state violence. His is broadly interested in theories of radical democracy, and particularly in the politics of migration, racism and anti-racist politics, political struggles of indigenous peoples, transitional justice, politics and literature, and political thought of the twentieth century.



Dr Karen Scott

Karen Scott’s research interests focus on the politics of knowledge and epistemic injustice, particularly where it relates to evidence for public policy and sustainability. She has worked in, and alongside, local and central government to improve evidence for public policy on wellbeing and sustainability issues. Dr Scott is co-editor for the Palgrave MacMillan book series The Politics and Policy of Wellbeing, and also teaches various courses in the theories and governance of ‘The Good Life’ from classical to contemporary times.


Dr Jack Tagney

Jack's research lies in the space between ethics, political thought, and philosophy of nature/biology. He is primarily interested in the inter-relations between human understanding of nature, especially the organic world, and thought/action in the socio-political and environmental spheres. He has published on the political significance of contemporary understanding of evolutionary and developmental biology; the tendency to appeal to 'nature' as a source of moral and political authority; and the role of the interpretation of organic phenomena in bioethical reasoning. He is currently doing research on the attitude of wonder in environmental and social relations, on the relationship between dehumanization and species essentialism, and on the Aristotelian concepts of life and flourishing.



Dr Kate Goldie Townsend

Kate Goldie Townsend is a normative political theorist who takes an interdisciplinary approach to interpreting social and political phenomena. She is particularly interested in injustices affecting children and women. She tries to make sense of the world as it is, and to respond to injustices with feasible ideals; her work is methodologically feminist in this respect. Townsend is currently working on two research projects. The first project has two main aims: to defend all children’s right to genital integrity; and to expose moral inconsistencies in current legislation on child genital cutting. The second project examines the normative and political tensions that emerge if both children’s rights and women’s rights are taken seriously within the context of increasing reliance on science and experts to decide policy and inform public morality. She is particularly interested in how scientifically informed understanding about what is in children’s (including foetuses’ and infants’) interest, impacts on norms and policies concerning perinatal women’s bodies. She has recently joined the steering committee for the Children and Young People's Wellbeing @ Exeter Research Network.



Dr Simon Townsend

Simon Townsend’s primary area of research is the political philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Currently, his research focuses on interpreting the underlying claims that Nietzsche makes about political states, including their formation and their periods of decadence and decline. He is investigating the complex relationship between political states and 'higher individuals', who are both a product of certain types of state but are often the driving impetus behind the emergence of strong states.

He also writes on the philosophies and political theories of several twentieth-century Nietzscheans, including Georges Bataille and Michel Foucault, both in respect to their interpretations of Nietzsche and their overall body of work. His other research interest include contemporary agonistic democracy, both the Nietzschean and non-Nietzschean strands, which focuses on the inevitability of conflict between social groups and the necessity of processing this conflict democratically.



Dr Joanie Willett

Joanie Willett’s research experience focuses on the inter-relationship between identity, communities, and the environment; using political philosophy to provide new ways of looking at the world to improve economic development and governance. She has a strong interest in the use of artistic methods such as performance as research tools and uses phenomenological post humanist, materialist political philosophies to understand the identities, motivations, and behaviours of communities. She is currently finalising a book manuscript titled Affective Assemblages and Local Economies (with Rowman and Littlefield).

Affiliated staff