PhD scholarships on Spinoza and Political Affect

Three PhD scholarships are available to work with Dr. Beth Lord at the University of Aberdeen on the topic of “Spinoza and Political Affect”.

These are fee-waiver scholarships (no stipend for living costs) open to applicants of all nationalities commencing full-time, on-campus study in October 2016. The deadline for applications is 29 April 2016. For further information and how to apply, follow the link for each project below.


Political affect has recently become an important topic in continental philosophy. The philosophy of affect investigates what constitutes relations within and between bodies –physically, metaphysically, and socially – and how those relations determine action and thought. Its adherents seek to overcome the cognitivist model of the subject, and instead to understand subjectivity to emerge from these socially embedded and affectively interrelated bodies. The philosophy of political affect investigates how these relations, emergent subjectivities and processes determine political actions, decisions, and communities. This way of thinking draws on the work of Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, process philosophy, theorists of the embodied/embedded mind, feminist philosophy, and philosophies of the non-human. Many strands of this thinking are rooted in, and explicitly drawn from, the 17th century philosophy of Baruch Spinoza, with his theories of the individual, of collective bodies, and of power, conatus, and the affects being particularly relevant.

Proposals are invited under any of the following three project areas. Though housed in Aberdeen’s Philosophy department, the projects are interdisciplinary in nature. Researchers may come from different disciplinary backgrounds and will be expected to engage with relevant literature from various fields. Researchers will be expected to consider avenues and activities for impact and public engagement for their project. Applicants are strongly advised to contact the main supervisor, Dr. Beth Lord, for an informal discussion prior to applying:


Spinoza and the dynamics of political movements (click HERE for full details)

PhD researchers are invited to develop a project linking Spinoza’s philosophy of the “body politic” with one or more specific historical and/or contemporary political movements. The purpose of the project is to explain and/or challenge the current understanding of a specific political situation or movement in terms of a theory of political affect. This will be developed through the study of (a) Spinoza’s theories of the individual, collective bodies, and affects; (b) relevant contemporary continental philosophy (which might include Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Rosi Braidotti, John Protevi, and Jane Bennett); (c) theoretical and empirical literature relevant to the chosen political situation, which should be a specific political movement, conflict, or event (examples might include ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ the Brixton Riots, or the fall of the Berlin Wall).

Spinoza and the politics of nonhuman animals (click HERE for full details)

PhD researchers are invited to develop a project on some socio-political aspect of human-nonhuman relations, drawing on the philosophy of Spinoza as well as recent continental philosophy of political affect and animal studies. The purpose of the project is to investigate a specific problem in our thinking about human relations to nonhuman animals, at the microphysical, somatic, and/or social levels. Examples of suitable topics might include: the political power of viruses; the affective dimension of animal labour; nonhuman animals’ status in political communities. The project will be expected to engage with Spinoza’s philosophy of bodies, affects, and animals, as well as with relevant continental philosophy (which might include Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Manuel deLanda, Rosi Braidotti, John Protevi, Jane Bennett, Donna Haraway, Wahida Khandker, and other thinkers of political affect and nonhuman animals).

Spinoza, political affect, and political decision-making (click HERE for full details)

PhD researchers are invited to develop a project on methods of political decision-making that draw on the philosophy of Spinoza and theories of political affect. The purpose of the project is to offer a critique of existing models of political decision-making and to develop new models based on recent theories of emergent, embodied, and socially embedded subjectivity. These will be investigated and explored with reference to (a) Spinoza’s philosophy of collective bodies, his denial of free will, and his theories of power and political organization; (b) recent philosophy of thought and action relevant to political affect, such as theories of the embodied/embedded mind, group psychology and collective action; (c) recent continental philosophy, such as Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of intensity; Foucault’s theory of biopower; Braidotti’s post-humanist feminist philosophy; and Hardt and Negri’s theory of the composition of political bodies. Projects may involve empirical research and/or case studies as relevant.

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