Politics and International Studies

News and events

2016 News and events

Stijn van Kessel was interviewed by Australian radio about the case against the Dutch politician

Stijn van Kessel was interviewed by Australian radio (ABC Radio National Breakfast) about the case against the Dutch politician Geert Wilders:


The populist far right Dutch politician Geert Wilders has vowed to appeal a court decision which found him guilty of hate speech.

A Dutch court found the leader of the anti-immigration Freedom Party incited discrimination at a campaign rally in 2014 when he asked supporters if they wanted fewer or more Moroccans in the country.

When they answered 'fewer', he replied: 'Then we'll take care of that'.

But Wilders, though found guilty, was not sentenced.

The verdict comes just three months before national elections in the Netherlandswith Geert Wilders' Freedom Party already leading the polls after making immigration a central issue of his campaign.

Guilty verdict, but an excellent day for Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders nonetheless

Stijn van Kessel published a commentary with The Conversation today.

The populist radical right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders was found guilty on December 9 of insulting a group of people (Moroccans) and “inciting discrimination”.  Wilders can use the verdict to lend credence to his claim that elitist judges defy the “will of the people”, the majority of whom – as he at least would like us to believe – support his views. He can indeed be pleased with the verdict. The process has already given him and his party considerable media attention in the run-up to the national election, which will now be prolonged due to Wilders’ plan to appeal.

Read more here >>

ESRC funding success

The UK in a changing europe - ESRC 670x

Prof. Helen Drake has been awarded funding from the ESRC to undertake a project on 'Future-proofing the UK electorate: simulating real-world, post-Brexit decisions on EU freedom of movement in the UK's schools'. The project is part of the ESRC's UK in a Changing Europe programme and is designed to promote social science research in the public sphere.

Publication: The Populist Radical Right’s EU-pessimism in Times of Crisis

Journal article - Stijn

Andrea L.P. Pirro and Stijn van Kessel ‘United in Opposition? The Populist Radical Right’s EU-pessimism in Times of Crisis’, forthcoming in Journal of European Integration.

This article assesses whether, and how, Populist Radical Right (PPR) parties have changed their ‘EU-pessimist’ discourse following the Global Financial Crisis. It analyses the evolution of the PRR’s discourse in five countries, and shows that PRR parties have responded to the crisis in different ways, displaying varying degrees of EU-pessimism. These responses were partly informed by the opportunities provided by their contexts, but ostensibly more so by the strategic considerations of PRR party leaderships.

Alex Christoyannopoulos publishes Conversation article on ‘what to do about it’


Alex Christoyannopoulos has just published an article in The Conversation titled “Think the world’s in a mess? Here are four things you can do about it”. 

In it, he argues that we all make political decisions which can be make differently as often as every day: as a producer, as a consumer, as a citizen and as a person. 

Click here for the full article.

Melodee Beals was presented with the 2016 Award for her Digital History Project, Scissors and Paste.

2016 British Library Labs Research Award

On 7 November, Melodee Beals was presented with the 2016 Award for her Digital History Project, Scissors and Paste.

The Research Award recognises projects that develop new knowledge,  research methods or tools using the Library’s digital content.

Melodee Beals - 2016 British Library Labs Research Award

Marcus Collins was interviewed about John Lennon's attitude to British foreign policy in the 1960s

Marcus Collins was interviewed about John Lennon's attitude to British foreign policy in the 1960s on BBC Radio 4's The World at One, following the discovery of a draft of the letter Lennon sent to the Queen when returning his MBE in 1969. Dr Collins spoke about the mixed results of Lennon's subversive humour as a political weapon. 

The link to the podcast is http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04dfvnw

Robert Knight has published a letter in the Times Literary Supplement about Harold Macmillan

Harold Macmillan and the Cossacks

Robert Knight has published a letter in the Times Literary Supplement about Harold Macmillan’s role in the hand-overs of Cossacks to the Red Army in 1945.

Long ago he critically reviewed Nikolai Tolstoy’s Book, The Minister and the Massacres in the TLS and in 1989 provided expert evidence in the high court libel action brought by Lord Aldington against Nikolai Tolstoy.

Macmillian 450x

Anarchy Rules! Loughborough researchers to speak at conference opened by President of Iceland

Three researchers from the UK will be visiting Reykjavik for three days from the 18th to the 20th of October for a series of talks and discussions on the relevance of anarchist theory to contemporary politics.

Ruth Kinna, from Loughborough University, Alex Prichard, from the University of Exeter, and Thomas Swann, also from Loughborough University, will be speaking to left-wing activists and Pirate Party members about how anarchist organising can help re-think what constitutions can be and how they can support social change.

The researchers will also speak at a conference at Reykjacik University convened by Katrin Oddsdottir, CEO of the campaign group The Constitutional Society and Attorney to the District Court. The conference, held on the 20th of October, will be opened by the President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson.

The conference at Reykjavik University will include contributions from noted legal scholars Laurence Lessig (Harvard University) and David Carrillo (UC Berkley) and communications expert Arne Hintz (Cardiff University). The researchers from the UK will discuss the problems with modern politics, pointing towards solutions that can be found in radical ideas of constitutionalism and democracy, highlighting the role of social media in realising these.

Anarchy Rules workshop
Anarchy Rules Workshop

Historically, anarchist politics has promoted values of participation and deliberation in democratic decision making and is committed to empowering people (especially marginalised groups and individuals) by adopting non-hierarchical, 'leaderless' principles.

The researchers, who are working on a larger project that explores anarchism and constitutional politics with radical left groups in the UK, aim to question how constitutions are used in mainstream politics. They will suggest that examples such as the Occupy movement of 2011 show how rules and constitutions play important and necessary roles in anarchist politics and in left-wing politics in general.

The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of the Transformative Research scheme.

Ruth Kinna, the lead researcher on the project and Professor of Political Theory at Loughborough University, said: ‘Constitutions have typically been used to establish systems of domination through hierarchy, something anarchists are opposed to. But we believe that thinking about constitutional practices in new ways can help everyone interested in anarchist organising think creatively about rule-making.’

Alex Prichard, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Exeter, added: ‘Even anarchists who reject constitutions have rules. The criticisms anarchists have of how rules operate in mainstream politics are reasons to think about how the openness and flexibility of anarchist organising can be used to support egalitarian, libertarian and democratic principles.’

Thomas Swann, Research Associate at Loughborough University, said: ‘The questions raised by this research are particularly relevant in Iceland, where innovative crowd-sourcing methods have been experimented with in trying to write a new constitution. With the potential of success for the Pirate Party in the upcoming elections, new forms of participation and democracy are becoming increasingly important, and not just for Iceland.’

For more information on the research, see the project website: www.anarchyrules.info

Researcher bios

Ruth Kinna

Ruth Kinna

Ruth Kinna is Professor of Political Theory at Loughborough University and writes on anarchist history and contemporary radical politics. She is the co-convenor of the UK Political Studies Association’s Anarchist Studies Network and member of the Loughborough-based Anarchism Research Group. She is the author of A Beginner's Guide to Anarchism and editor of the Bloomsbury Companion to Anarchism. Her most recent book, Kropotkin: Reviewing the Classical Anarchist Tradition, is a study of the political thought of the nineteenth century anarchist, Peter Kropotkin. She is also involved in projects on anti-militarism and art activism and political violence. Professor Kinna has been a regular contributor to the London-based STRIKE! Magazine, has been a discussant on BBC Radio 4’s Ideas in Our Time and BBC Radio 3’s Nightwaves and has contributed to permanent interview exhibit at the William Morris Gallery, London.

You can find her full profile here: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/phir/staff/ruth-kinna/

Alex Prichard

Alex Prichard

Alex Prichard is Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Exeter. He is the co-founder of the Political Studies Association's Anarchist Studies Network, and the Manchester University Press book series 'Contemporary Anarchist Studies'. Dr. Prichard is the author of the only study of Proudhon's theory of international relations, Justice, Order and Anarchy: The International Political Theory of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and has co-edited two ground-breaking collections of essays on the connections between anarchism and Marxism.

You can find his full profile here: http://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/politics/staff/prichard/

Thomas Swann

Thomas Swann 250x374

Thomas Swann completed his PhD at the University of Leicester School of Management in September 2015. He is a member of the international advisory board of the journal Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies and in 2014 co-edited a ground-breaking special issue of the journal ephemera on anarchism and critical management studies. Dr. Swann has published on anarchist ethics and organisation theory and has contributed to public debates on Scottish independence, contemporary social movements and the connections between anarchism and cybernetics. His writing has appeared in Roar Magazine, Bella Caledonia, the Times Higher Education Supplement and OpenDemocracy.

You can find his full profile here: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/phir/staff/thomas-swann/

Dr Marcus Collins is co-organising a one-day History UK conference on academics’ two favourite acronyms, the REF and the TEF.

History UK Plenary 2016 500x

Dr Marcus Collins is co-organising a one-day History UK conference on academics’ two favourite acronyms, the REF and the TEF.  Speakers include the President-elect of the Royal Historical Society, the past President of Universities UK and the Higher Education Academy’s Head of Research. At the conference, Marcus will be unveiling the results of his analysis of the core content of all undergraduate history degrees in Britain.

Dr Marcus Collins has been elected to the Council of the Royal Historical Society.

Royal Historical Society. 636x

Dr Marcus Collins has been elected to the Council of the Royal Historical Society. As the first Loughborough academic to serve a four-year term on the RHS’s governing body, he hopes to ‘represent ordinary historians in extraordinary times.’

Silencing the Critics: Charities, Lobbyists, and the Government’s Quiet War on Dissent

Renewal banner 670x

Phil Parvin’s latest article on political lobbying, charities, and the future of the British left is now out in the latest edition of Renewal and is free to read. 

The full text is available here: http://bit.ly/2cTRaAg

Paper: 'Developing Outreach and Employability through Teaching Observation'

Catherine Armstrong, and two PHIR students Pooja Makwana and Zoe Newton presented a paper at the Excellence in Student Engagement Conference at Loughborough on September 8th. Their paper was entitled 'Developing Outreach and Employability through Teaching Observation' and discussed the findings of the Teaching Innovation Award funded project led by Catherine and co-investigator Lauren Porter, now a graduate of the department.

Anarchist Studies Network Fourth International Conference

Loughborough University, U.K.

Central theme: Anarcha-feminism

The central theme for this year’s conference is anarcha-feminism. The purposes are twofold: to stimulate discussion of a form of oppression that anarchists oppose but which continues to be felt in anarchist organising, and to welcome individuals, groups and communities who have not previously participated in ASN events. By recognising the legacy of anarcha-feminists/anarchist feminism and women's activism in anarchism we aim to strengthen the ties between contemporary anarchists and feminists in the struggle against oppression and use the recognition of misogynist practices and hierarchical gender structures to open up the event to other marginalised peoples. We have therefore particularly encouraged submissions from women, trans and non-binary people, queer activists, collectives, people of colour, people with disabilities and we insist that panel and panel stream organizers are aware of the requirement to attend to inclusion as a first priority.

Read more here >>

The anarchist guide to Europe has been been published in STRIKE! magazine.

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The anarchist guide to Europe has been been published in STRIKE! magazine.

What do anarchists have to say about Europe? The answer is nothing that speaks directly to the recent, tedious and crudely self-serving debates about the European Union and the rights and wrongs of membership, but quite a lot about some of the issues that have animated these clashes: trade, democracy, movements of peoples, nationality, principles of justice and well-being. There are three major lines of thought, each extending from a critique of European state practice, which together support an alternative vision of organising. The first is about anarchy and the United States of Europe. The second is about European imperialism. The third is about Europeanisation.

Available online at http://s.coop/euref

Teaching Innovation Award on blogging within and beyond the university

Teaching Innovation Award Christoyannopoulos-Bohr-VC 200x

Alex Christoyannopoulos has been granted a Teaching Innovation Award for a joint project with Marco Bohr from SAED to better understand what roles blogs can play within as well as beyond the university. 

The aims of the project are to explore: 

  1. how, and at which stage in their academic journey, students can be encouraged to create or use a blog; 
  2. what the legal implications are for using blogs as a teaching, assessment and/or public outreach method; 
  3. how blogs can be used as method for self-promotion; 
  4. how blogs might impact student employability; 
  5. what opportunities a blog might offer for academics. 

The project will unfold in the course of the next academic year. 

Article published by Alex Christoyannopoulos: Leo Tolstoy’s Anticlericalism in Its Context and Beyond

Alex Christoyannopoulos’ latest article titled “Leo Tolstoy’s Anticlericalism in Its Context and Beyond: A Case against Churches and Clerics, Religious and Secular” Has just been published by the open access journal Religions. It is freely available via: http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/7/5/59. The article is based on a plenary lecture delivered by Alex in Rovaniemi (Finland) at the Enlightened Anarchism conference in September 2014. 

The article summarises and discusses Tolstoy’s anticlericalism, and then develops a number of arguments according to which the bulk of Tolstoy’s anticlericalism can be applied not only to the church but to secular institutions as well. The full abstract of the paper is below: 

In the last thirty years of his life, Leo Tolstoy wrote numerous books, essays and pamphlets expounding his newly-articulated views on violence, the state, the church, and on how to improve the human condition. Since then, these “Christian anarchist” views have often been dismissed as utopian or naive, and, despite inspiring many activists and intellectuals, often forgotten or ignored. Some of those views and arguments, however, arguably remain apposite today—and can in some cases be applied to broader phenomena than those he identified. This article focuses on one of the aspects of his Christian anarchist thought: his anticlericalism.

The first Section recounts the evolution of Tolstoy’s views on religion and the church, and briefly describes Tolstoy’s peculiar metaphysics.

The second outlines his main charges against the church, discusses some common objections to it, and considers the continuing relevance of his anticlericalism.

The third seeks to secularise his anticlerical arguments by applying them beyond the church, against secular preachers and institutions, and does so by reflecting on the quality of debate in the contemporary public sphere, on the hypocritical distance between the morality preached by secular “clerics” and their practice, and on the steady process of ossification and betrayal which befalls secular political ideals.

The article thus contributes to the literature firstly by summarising, discussing and reflecting upon the anticlericalism of a famous writer who also espoused controversial religious and political views; secondly by succinctly outlining his idiosyncratic metaphysics, including his peculiar reinterpretation of traditional Christian referents; and thirdly by applying the arguments that informed his criticisms of the church to a broader variety of religious and secular secular institutions. 

The EU and YOU! - Campus-wide student debate, 10 May 2016

6-8pm Brockington U.0.20
the Union Jack flag with the EU logo and map of countries

On Tuesday 10 May 2016, 6-8pm, there will be a campus-wide student debate about the EU, ahead of the 23 June 2016 referendum on UK membership of the EU Panellists of academics and campaigners will be there to hear your views and answer your questions. This will be an evening for the exchange of information, ideas and opinions.

Come early to make sure you get a seat (room: Brockington U.0.20). Questions and comments can be sent in advance (and on the night) via Twitter (#EUandYOU)

Academic Job Boot Camp co-organised by Marcus Collins

academic boot camp logos and photo

25 postdocs and postgrads selected from 20 universities are being interviewed in May for an ‘Imaginary Lectureship in History at Loughborough University’ at an Academic Job Boot Camp co-organised by Marcus Collins and co-sponsored by History UK, History Lab Plus and the Institute of Historical Research.

Catherine Armstrong has been awarded a 3 month research fellowship

an illustration of 'A slave gang in Zanzibar'.

Catherine Armstrong has been awarded a 3 month research fellowship at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford.

She will be working on a project entitled 'U.S. perceptions of global slavery in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.'

Politics and IR at Loughborough races to 8th in the national Guardian league tables!

The National Guardian League Tables 2017 banner

We are delighted that Politics and International Relations has been ranked 8th in the 2017 Guardian national league tables, a rise of nearly 20 places on last year! This is a huge achievement, and one which reflects the huge amount of time and effort that our dedicated Politics and International Relations teams put in to developing the most exciting courses possible, supporting students, and getting students jobs on graduation.

This rise is in addition to the huge rise of 8 places in the Complete University Guide this year, taking us into the Top 20 nationally, and the rise in our ratings for student satisfaction. Loughborough University as a whole was ranked 4th nationally.

Head of Department David Berry said: “It just goes to show what you can achieve if you take students seriously, support their aspirations, and go all-out to give the best experience. I’m really proud of our academics and students.”

For a complete breakdown of the results visit the Guardian website

Anarchism Research Group Seminar

5pm Herbert Manzoni Building, K105

We are pleased to announce that the first Anarchism Research Group seminar of the year will be taking place.

Grietje Baars – (City University London) – will present a paper on “Explaining the 'obvious' interconnection of all struggles: Conversations on veganism, gender & queer liberation with the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall”.

PHIR rockets up the league tables

We in the department of Politics, History, and International Relations are enormously pleased at our success in the 2017 Complete University Guide. History at Loughborough rose 8 places this year, moving from 31st to 23rd in the country.

Politics rose 12 places, taking it from number 31 in 2016 to 19 in 2017! The rise across our programmes reflects the outstanding dedication of our staff to providing the best possible experience for our students, the best opportunities for our graduates, and creating a world-leading research community.

The full list of Politics/IR results can be found here »

The full list of History results can be found here »

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