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Institute in Paris

Contemporary Politics and Critical Theory

Drawing on the rich resources of French and international critical theory, the University of London Institute in Paris' research focuses on the origins, forms and responses to political, social and environmental crises.

Key questions addressed by Eugene Brennan, Edouard Morena, Davide Gallo Lassere and Shela Sheikh include non-state actors’ responses to the climate crisis and their shaping of the climate debate; how various stakeholders are improvising and innovating in response to the matrix of political crises shaping contemporary urban life; and new currents in contemporary critical theory and political philosophy that can help us understand, and create connections between, a wide range of unfolding social movements. 

Eugene Brennan’s research is grounded in contemporary French thought, with a specialism in the work and ongoing critical influence of Georges Bataille, as well as new research on contemporary crisis theory. Recent publications include articles in Theory & Event (2021) and Theory, Culture & Society (2021, 2018) . He convened the University of London Institute in  Paris seminar series Theory in Crisis (2020-22) and is currently guest-editing a special issue of Cultural Politics titled ‘Crisis Theory: The Politics of the Present’, working closely with Davide Gallo Lassere. Gallo Lassere’s forthcoming article for the special issue is titled ‘Transnational Temporalities’ and forms the basis of his book project which rethinks internationalism in the contemporary political conjuncture. Beyond this, he has recently published articles on global capitalism (Actuel Mar,, 2020), Mario Tronti’s thought (Routledge, 2020), the Yellow Vests movement (Southern Atlantic Quarterly, 2019; Socio, 2022) and the ecological crises (Verso web site, 2022).

Edouard Morena’s current research focuses on elite networks in international climate politics. His recent publications include co-editing the book, Just Transitions: Social Justice in the Shift Towards a Low-Carbon World (Pluto Press, 2020) and two articles on climate philanthropy and international climate negotiations inInternational Politics (2021). Building on his work on philanthropy and climate justice, he will be publishing a monograph in French in February 2023 (La Découverte) on the role of elites in the international climate debate. Shela Sheikh addresses questions of global environmental justice from a decolonial perspective, foregrounding contributions of artistic and performative practices. She has published in this area in journals such as Third Text and Kronos: Southern African Histories; related editorial projects include ‘The Wretched Earth: Botanical Conflicts and Artistic Interventions’ (Third Text, 2018) co-edited with Ros Gray and the ‘Planetarities(Opens in new window)’ series (Goldsmiths Press and MIT Press), edited with Ros Gray and Jennifer Gabrys. She is currently working on a monograph, Staging Environmental Justice, which reads global people’s tribunals alongside staged trials and hearings, asking how grassroots experimental, speculative forums might enact a decolonial imaginary of environmental justice.