Politics and International Studies


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Anarchy as a constitutional principle: constitutionalising in anarchist politics

Anarchy as a constitutional principle: constitutionalising in anarchist politics

Anarchism is often dismissed in contemporary politics. The association of anarchy with chaos and what Tony Blair referred to as the ‘carnivalesque’ travelling circus is deeply embedded in public discourse. This cross-institutional project (Exeter University and Loughborough) takes a different view and explores how, if at all, anarchist groups deploy the concept of anarchy to support their democratic practices and how this approach helps us think about constitutions and constitutionalising processes. To do this we are working with anarchist groups to discuss how approaches to freedom and non-domination influence practices and potentially establish novel benchmarks for thinking about political theory. Working in partnership with anarchists and co-producing research we want to use our findings to rethink how anarchy is understood in international politics, where states and other bodies interact in anarchy - without a universal sovereign authority. Our aim is to challenge the conception of anarchy in political theory and argue that the anarchy in global politics models self-government and the potential virtues of anarchy more broadly.  

The project is funded by under the 2016 ESRC Tranformative Grant Scheme ES/N006860/1

Ruth Kinna (Loughborough University). Based in Loughborough since 1992, Ruth is a political theorist specialising in the history of anarchist ideas and contemporary anarchist politics. She is a member of the Anarchism Research Group and co-convenor of the Anarchist Studies Network. She has been editor of the journal Anarchist Studies since 2008.

Alex Prichard is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Exeter. His research brings together IR theory, political theory and anarchist political thought, in order to rethink the concept of anarchy for a post-sovereign politics. He gained his PhD from Loughborough University in 2008, and has since published widely on anarchism and IR theory. He is co-editor of the monograph series Contemporary Anarchist Studies, published by Manchester University Press.

Thomas Swann (Loughborough University). Thomas completed his PhD at the University of Leicester School of Management in September 2015. Prior to that, he gained an MA in Social and Political Philosophy from Radboud University Nijmegen in 2010 and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Glasgow in 2008. His research has examined the connections between anarchism and organisational cybernetics, aiming to develop ‘anarchist cybernetics’ as a framework for understanding radical left social movement organisation.

In preparation: Anarchism and Non-Domination.

What the Yes campaign can learn about Iceland, occupy and anarchy

Iceland's Crowd-sourced constitution: hope for disillusioned voters everywhere

Anarchy in the USA: five years on, the legacy of Occupy Wall Street and what it can teach us in the Age of Trump.

Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair

Our report on the Anarchy: Rules! workshop is available on the anarchyrules.info site.

We have been presenting our work at:

Constitutions – Poetry or Prose? University of Reykjavik, Iceland 20 October

Anarchy Rules! Workshop London Anarchist Bookfair Saturday 29 October

Emancipatory Transformations: Engaging Radical Democracy in Kurdistan, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University, 3-4 November

The project website is www.anarchyrules.info

If you want to get in touch with us, email r.e.kinna@lboro.ac.uk, t.swann@lboro.ac.uk